OSMANIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
Call No. I J7' 3 \^ion No. 3*) f
This book fiMould Ifc returned on or before the ^
-hist marked below. ^X*/* 1 t /J 3
TRY GIVING YOUkSELF AWAY
by David Dunn
London George Allen and Unwin Ltd
First published in Great Britain in 1953
Copyright in the U.S.A.
Thi\ book is copyright under the Berne Convention,
Apart from anv fair dealing for the purposes oj
private \tiuly, research, criticism or review a.\
permitted under the Copyright Act 1911, no portion
may be reproduced by any process without written
permis\ ion. Enquiry should be made to the publisher.
Printed in Great Britain
by Clements, New ling & Co.
TO EVE RY M AN AN D WOMAN
WHO IS SEEKING
GREATER H A P P I N E SS N O W
1. I make an important discovery 3
2. Capsule adventures in giving and living 5
3. "A portion of thyself 10
4. Obey your warm-hearted impulses 13
5. A businessman with a hobtty 18
6. Bread upon the waters 20
7. Giving yourself "in kind" 24
8. Minutes make fine gifts 27
9. Multiply your giving by three 33
10. The unbuyable gifts 36
11. The priceless gift of tolerance 40
12. Three-cent giving 44
13. On lowering the one-in-ten average 46
14. Little sparks of appreciation 50
15. Appreciation-in-depth 52
16. Are you a "noticer"? 55
17. Experiments in interest-giving 58
18. The poverty of the wealthy and the loneliness
of the great 62
19. The finest heart tonic in the world 66
20. Giving yourself to a group 70
21. Citizenship-giving 72
22. Are you a credit-giver? 78
23. On the sharing of surpluses 80
24. The gracious art of receiving 84
25. The investment of influence 89
26. For teen-agers only ( Parents please keep out) 92
27. Concerning rebuffs 98
28. The fun comes from inside 103
29. Greater happiness now! 106
A book for the times
C. Several years ago I wrote a brief article entitled Try
Giving Yourself Away, which appeared anonymously in
FORBES MAGAZINE and was reprinted in even more con-
densed form in THE READER'S DIGEST. With the kind
permission of these publishers, and at the request of
many persons, I have expanded that short article into
the present book, which develops in considerable detail
the Art of Giving-Away. In it I have tried to answer
many questions that have bsen put to me by personal
friends, and by readers in letters from all over the globe.
These are troubled times. The worldis full of strife
and heartache. Men and women everywhere seek peace
of mind and heart, and wish desperately that they as
individuals could do something toward lifting the heavy
blanket of gloom and fear that oppresses mankind.
Perhaps you and I can help. More than anything
else, the world needs the healing influence of a great
surge of simple kindheartedness, to rid humanity of
jealousy, selfishness and greed. Such a surge must start
with us, as individuals; it is beyond the power of the
world's rulers or statesmen. In our daily living we aver-
age citizens must establish the spirit and set the pattern
of a kindlier world.
Could there be a more opportune time for all of us
to try 'giving ourselves away? Could anything else we
might do as individuals contribute so much toward the
peace of the world, or earn us so much personal happi-
ness ? I doubt it.
I invite you to join me in my hobby.
I make an important discovery
^[ Like most people, I was brought up to look upon fife as a
process of getting. The idea of*"giving myself away" came to
me by accident. One night, twenty-odd years ago, while lying
awake in my berth on the Twentieth Century Limited en
route from Chicago to New York, I fell to wondering just
where the eastbound and westbound Centuries passed each
other in the night. *
"That would make an interesting subject for one of the
New York Central's advertisements," I said to myself
"Where the Centuries Pass." Whereupon I went to sleep.
Next morning I wrote a letter to the New York Central
Lines presenting the idea, "with no strings attached." A few
days later I received a courteous letter of acknowledgment
and the information that the Centuries were scheduled to pass
near the little town of Athol Springs, New York, nine miles
west of Buffalo.
Some months later I received a second letter informing me
that my "Where the Centuries Pass" idea was to be used as
the subject for the New York Central calendar for 1924. You
may recall that calendar, a night picture of the oncoming
locomotive of one Century and the lighted observation plat-
form of the other, passing on a curve. It was a scene rich in
color and railroad romance.
The following summer I traveled extensively. In almost
every railroad station and hotel lobby I entered, both at home
and in Europe, hung my Century calendar. It never failed to
give me a glow of pleasure.
It was thus I made the important discovery that anything
which makes one glow with pleasure is beyond money calcu-
lation, f in this humdrum world where there is altogether too
much grubbing and too little glowing.
I began to experiment with giving-away, and discovered
it to be great fun! My life began to be full of exciting little
adventures, and I found myself making many new friends.
I discovered, too, that successful giving-away has to be
cultivated. There is a knack to it, just as there is to successful
getting/ Opportunities for reaping dividends of happiness are
fleeting. You have to act quickly or they elude you. But that
only adds zest.
One day I woke up to the fact that I was really a collector
a collector of Glows and After Glows. It is a fascinating
hobby. Like collecting anything else', you are always looking
for new experiences in giving-away to add to your collection.
Unlike other forms of collecting, however, you need no safe
or cabinet in which to keep your treasures; nor do you have to
go out of your way to keep adding to your collection. You
have only to look around, wherever you are, to discover some
opportunity to give yourself away.
I recommend giving-away as an exciting and thoroughly
satisfying hobby. In fact, if you will give it a good try, III
practically guarantee you a happier life starting right away!
Capsule adventures in giving
^L Your giving-away will, of course, have to be done in your
own individual way, based on the things you have to give.
Fortunately each of us has a different assortment of gifts,
so there could never be anything standardized about giving-
away, even though every one of us were to take up the hobby.
Some of us have spare time; others have surplus. mental or
physical energy; others^have a special art, skill or talent; still
others have ideas, imagination, the ability to organize, the gift
All of us can give appreciation, kindness, interest, loyalty,
understanding, encouragement, tolerance and a score of
other little portions of ourselves. Each of us should "major"
in the items in which we are "long," and fill in with the others.
Perhaps you will catch the idea faster if I explain how I
practice my hobby.
Suppose I am passing a neighborhood store in which I
notice a particularly attractive window display. I say to my-
self, "Someone put real thought into trimming that window,
and he or she ought to know that at least one passerby appre-
So I stop in, ask for the manager, and compliment him on
the display. I find it always pleases a merchant to know that
his windows are noticed, even though I may not buy a penny's
worth of the merchandise displayed in them. In one instance
the clerk who trimmed the windows received a raise in pay as
a result of my compliment.
If I particularly enjoy a book, a magazine article, or a play,
I write a note to the author, telling him or her of my enjoy-
ment. Sometimes I receive an appreciative acknowledgment;
more often I do not. It doesn't matter in the least; I am not
collecting autographs; I am just keeping my giving-away
machinery in good working order.
One Saturday afternoon while working in my garden I
thought of an idea which I believed a certain New York de-
partment store might find useful. That evening I wrote a letter
to the store outlining the idee and presenting it, as is my cus-
tom, "with no strings attached." It )vas adopted with appre-
ciation and I had acquired a big department store as a
If an idea comes to me that I think could be used by a
local priest, minister, doctor, lawyer or merchant, I write him
a note telling him about it, though he may be a stranger to me.
If in my reading I run across an article, a picture, a car-
toon, a poem that I think would interest some friend, or even
a casual acquaintance, I clip it out and send it to tne person.
Sometimes I send clippings to total strangers.
One spring evening I stopped at a popcorn wagon in Battle
Creek, Michigan. A couple of urchins watched hungrily as the
melted butter was being poured on the freshly popped corn.
Without seeming to notice the youngsters, I ordered two more
bags, paid for them, handed each of the boys his bag, and
strode away. This little adventure-in-giving made the world
more exciting for four people th'at evening for the popcorn
vendor, too, enjoyed the episode.
The text of an advertisement in a trade magazine appealed
to me as being a wonderfully fine piece of writing. I wrote a
note to the company saying that, while I was not in the mar-
ket for their service, I did want to compliment them oh their
advertisement. Some days later I received a letter from Phila-
delphia from the man who had w/itten the advertisement. He
said my note had encouraged him no end and given him fresh
inspiration. I had acquired a new friend in Philadelphia. I
have since had many fine letters from him.
One evening I was dining alone in a Boston hotel. The
selections the orchestra was playing exactly suited my mood.
On the way out, impulse prompted me to cross the dining-
room to the dais where the musicians were resting between
"Gentlemen," I said, "I have thoroughly enjoyed your
program. Several of your numbers were particular favorites
of mine. And you put so much spirit into your playing. I want
to thank you."
Their faces broke into smiles, and I left them beaming
over their instruments. The rest of my own evening was
One Sunday afternoon I fell to thinking of an elderly
gentleman in failing health whom I had not seen for a long
"Why not surprise him by calling him up?" I asked myself.
"I was thinking of you and I wanted to have a little chat,"
I explained when he came to the phone. We had an enjoyable
His wife told me, a few days later, that my call had done
more for him than a whole bottle of his tonic. "You know,"
she explained, "the telephone almost never rings for him any
Tiny episodes, all of these; but they are collectors' items
in my hobby of giving myself away.
You may do such things yourself, quite naturally, with-
out stopping to think of them as "gifts." If so, you are to
be congratulated. But, judging from my own experience, I'll
wager that you could do more of them, if you would make a
real hobby of self-giving. And I'll promise that you'll be
happier in proportion as you give.
Only once in recent years have I violated my giving-away
philosophy. In suggesting an idea to a shoe manufacturer I
hinted that I would not be averse to receiving a pair of shoes
in payment. He liked my idea and sent me a certificate good
for any pair of shoes of his manufacture. I selected a smart
pair of an expensive last and wore them proudly home.
But I lived to regret my avarice! That particular last was
not suited to my foot, and it took my feet months to recover
from the damage those shoes did. So now when I give away
an idea there isn't even a shoestring attached!
"A portion of thyself"
4 Ralph Waldo Emerson, that lofty idealist who neverthe-
less had a penetratingly practical knowledge of human nature,
wrote, "Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts.
The only gift is a portion of thyself."
Almost anything in the world can be bought for money
except the warm impulses of the human heart. They have to
be given. And they are priceless in their power to purchase
happiness for two people, the recipient and the giver.
Many letters have come to me from people who want to
try giving themselves away, but are timid. They are afraid
that their simple gifts-of-t1ie-heart would be laughed at. As
one correspondent expressed it, "I have nothing of any im-
portance to g^ve to anyone."
This is not true. While you may not think of what you
have to offer as being of any particular value, it may fill a
need in someone's life. And if it does that, even for a fraction
of a minute, it will add that much to the world's happiness.
And happiness is one of the greatest gifts within the power of
any of us to bestow, particularly in these troubled days when
the world is full of fear and suspicion, and men's minds and
hearts are anxious.
There are a hundred ways to give a portion 01 yourself.
But they all start from the same spot your heart. The
French have a proverb, "He gives nothing who does not give
"A portion of thyself," will, therefore, be your stock in
trade if you want to add to the happiness of those around you,
and to lead a happier and more exciting life yourself. It is the
spirit, not the substance, which carries warmth.
You need not worry for a second because you lack money
or material things. You can give yourself extravagantly if
you choose, and reap great happiness from your giving, with-
out reaching for your pocketbook. As Longfellow phrased it,
"Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you
dare to think."
Indeed, of all the things a person may give, money is prob-
ably the least permanent in the pleasure it produces, ancl the
most likely to backfire on the giver. Too often it results in
disillusionment, sometimes even in "wrecked friendship. If you
must give money, bear in mind the wise saying of Miguel de
Unamuno: "It is not the shilling I give you th?t counts, but
the warmth that it carries with it from my hand."
A New England man states: "It takes courage to give a
small portion of yourself in lieu of some obviously valuable
article. But a lively imagination made it possible for me to
perceive a great many ways in which I might 'spend myself/
instead of the cash I lacked."
I like the conception of "spending one's self," though I be-
lieve over the years one's spending turns out to be investing.
Some time ago I received a letter from a woman berating
me bitterly for my article on giving-away. She said her hus-
band was a "giver," that he had given away their money, their
food, the children's clothes, and even household articles, until
they were living almost in poverty.
I have no patience with such giving. When it comes to
money and material things, I believe the needs of one's family
should always come first. A person has no right to give away
things which belong to others, even in the name of generosity.
Thi^book is about giving yourself.
You are trying to give pfeasure to someone, and you know
from experience what trifling things give you pleasure. Such
simple gifts as a compliment on your home or your children
or your new hat, a note, a telephone call, or a simple act that
reflects thoughtfulness or friendly interest, will set you up for
an hour? perhaps for a whole day. They are the truest form of
giving, because they come from the heart they are literally
a portion of the giver.
Happiness must be sipped, not drained from life in great
gulps. Nor does it flow in steady stream like water from a
"A portion of thyself" is a sip of happiness, as satisfying
as it is costless.
Obey your warm-hearted impulses
4 The secret of successfully giving yourself away is not so
much in calculated actions as in cultivating friendly, warm-
hearted impulses. You have to train yourself to obey giving
impulses on the instant before they get a chance to cool.
When you give impulsively, something happens inside of you
that makes you glow, sometimes for hours.
Frequently impulse-giving results in a new friendship, or
leads to an interesting adventure. One afternoon during the
wartime gas shortage I was driving up a steep hill on my way
home. On the sidewalk was a woman carrying two large bags
of groceries. My impulse was to st^p and ask if she would like
a ride. But it meant stopping on the hillside.
"She probably lives on one of the side streets a block or
so up the hill," I told myself. But my giving-self squelched
that argument and I pulled over to the curb.
"Can I give you a lift?" I asked.
The woman got in gratefully. She had been obliged to walk
two miles to the village for her groceries, since the merchants
delivered only twice a week, and company had descended on
her unexpectedly. She was just starting the long trek home
with her bundles.
It turned out that he lived just around the corner from
my own home, having moved there very recently. Thus, by
obeying an impulse, I made the acquaintance of a delightful
Recently I was having dinner on a train. The soup was
especially good. On impulse I said to the waiter, "Please tell
the chef this mushroom soup is delicious."
The waiter looked surprised, then pleased. So, apparently,
was the chef, for when the vanilla ice cream I ordered for
dessert was served, it was smothered with crushed straw-
berries, though they were not on the menu. The chef had
obeyed an impulse, too and surprised me!
You just never can tell what will happen when you act on
a giving impulse!
I am sometimes asked, "When you obey your impulses,
aren't you likely to be too" impetuous and get yourself into
Yes; every c so often. But what of it? We are supposed to
be getting fun out of life. We lose so much by not obeying our
impulses that I figure we can afford to take a few risks for the
sake of adventure.
There is a serious aspect to impulse-giving, too. We never
know when some impulse action of ours may mean much in
the life of a friend or neighbor.
A young dentist of my acquaintance was struggling along
in Boston, trying to build a practice. He had come to the end
of his money. One bleak Monday morning in February he
decided that he would have to give up his dreams of a profes-
sional career in Boston and return to his home town.
That morning one of his friends was passing the brown-
stone building in which his office was located. At church the
previous Sunday he had noticed that the dentist looked de-
pressed. Purely on impulse, he decided to stop in to see % him.
As he mounted the stairs he met the dentist descending.
"Well, where are you going at this time of the morning?"
he demanded cheerily.
The dentist confessed that he was going out to make ar-
rangements to have his equipment shipped to his home town.
"I just can't make a go of it here in Boston," he admitted
Taking the young man by the shoulders, the caller turned
him around and marched him upstairs.
"Unlock that door," he commanded. "Turn on the lights
all of them make this place bright and cheerful. You are
not going to give up now, 'after all the months you have in-
vested in this place. Goodbye." And, with a friendly slap on
the back, he departed.
That afternoon a woman came in who had been recom-
mended to the dentist by a friend. Over a period of weeks this
woman's dental work amounted to $300, and her enthusiastic
recommendation brought other patients. The tide had turned.
In time the man who was saved from quitting by the impul-
sive act of a friend on a gloomy morning became one of Back
Bay's leading dentists.
One day I received this brief note on feminine notepaper
Today I was in the blues. Domestic affairs were a bit worrying.
I sat down at my desk to do accounts, but before beginning picked
up The Reader's Digest and read your article. "Isn't that nice" was
my inward exclamation when I had finished. The blues had vanished
and I felt quite cheered. You say "one must act fast, while the im-
pulse is fresh." So I am writing at once to send my appreciation.
This woman could not know that her impulsive note from
across the Atlantic would arrive at a time when I was going
through a period of discouragement, and that it would cheer
me as much as my article had cheered her.
Following is another letter which was inspired by that
My first thought, which from long habit I instantly put out of
my mind, was to drop you a note telling you how much I enjoyed
your article. Then it occurred to me that I was not obeying that
natural impulse that made your article so interesting. It also made
me realize something that I hadn't really brought to the front of my
mind before. I had always thought of certain friends as being gen-
erous, but, after thinking it over, I believe they are really successful
people at "giving-away."
The writer of this letter has hit on the truth; giving-away
is not a matter of generosity it is the basis of really success-
George Matthew Adams, in one of his syndicated news-
paper articles, suggested that everyone set aside one day a
week as Surprise Day, and do surprising little things for his
Why not every day? There are plenty of opportunities for
surprise-giving if you look for them.
The great virtue of surprise is that, whereas things people
expect have already lost much of their power to give pleasure,
the tiniest surprise adds fresh zest to living.
This is what makes impulse-giving so exciting, for both
the surpriser and the surprisee.
A businessman with a hobby
4L Some people may give themselves as an expression of un-
selfishness. To others it may be a matter of conscience. Still
others may cultivate giving- aw ay as a Christian duty and
surely giving yourself is the heart of the gospel of Christ, who
gave himself wholly.
I respect all of these motives. But I took up giving-away
as a hdbby because I found that it made my life more exciting,
and broadened my circle of friends. I became a happier person.
While lit pleases me that other people are made happier, I do
not look upon anything I do for them as being my conscien-
tious or Christian duty, or*as being unselfish. Unselfishness
for its own sake does not particularly interest me. It is rather
a goody-goodycidea, and smacks of self-righteousness.
But when we take a good look at its opposite selfishness
then unselfishness begins to take on an entirely different
aspect. For nobody ever found real and lasting happiness in
being completely selfish not in the whole long history of the
world. It seerns to be a law of life that we enrich ourselves
most when we give ourselves most fully and freely.
Selfishness, on the other hand, is a sort of slow poison. One
dose leads to another, until the system becomes so saturated
with it that one's whole life becomes bitter and disappointing.
Larger doses are tried in desperation, but they fail to produce
the desired results. The end is disappointment.
Giving-away rids the system of the poison of selfishness,
and produces a healthy glow that warms the spirit.
So I refuse to be considered "unselfish" or "generous" or
"self-sacrificing." I am just a businessman with a hobby.
If youare not already an enthusiastic giver-away, perhaps
this hobby is just what you need to fill your life with interest
If you do take it up in a serious way, let me give you two
good starting rules:
First: Never forget that the little giving-impulses are as
important as the big ones more important in a way, fpr they
help you to form the habit of giving yourself away. And until
this becomes second nature, your hobby will not pay its full*
Second: Start your giving- away as early in the morning
as possible. Days are shojt and the earlier you warm up your
spirit and get it "turning over," the more people you will have
made happy by the time you tumble into bed at night and
the more extiting your day will have been.
Bread upon the waters
^ It did not take me long, after I took up giving-away as a
hobby, to discover that it is virtually impossible to give your-
self away without getting back more than you give pro-
vided you give away with no thought of reward. As Seneca,
the Roman philosopher wrote, "There is no grace in a benefit
that sticks to the fingers."
Usually the return comes in some wholly unexpected
form, perhaps long after you have forgotten the giving-away
For example, one Sunday morning an important special
delivery letter was delivered, to my home, though it was ad-
dressed to me at my office and the post office would have
discharged its obligation by attempting to deliver it there.
I wrote the posfmaster a note of appreciation.
More than a year later I was in pressing need of a post
office box for a new enterprise I was starting. The clerk at the
window told me there were no boxes available, that my name
would have to go on a lorig waiting list.
I appealed to the assistant postmaster, who told me the
same thing. As I started to leave, keenly disappointed, the
postmaster appeared in the doorway of his adjoining office.
He had overheard the conversation and my name had caught
"Are you the David Dunn who wrote us that nice letter a
year or so ago about our delivering a special delivery to your
home one Sunday morning?" I said I was.
"Well, you don't know what a letter like that means to us.
We usually get nothing but kicks. You are certainly going to
have a box in this post office if we have to make one for you."
A few days later I had a box. Bread upon the waters!
Without thought of reward, a woman in Alexandria, Vir-
ginia, acted on a giving-impulse when a young friend had
measles. Realizing that the little girl would be cooped, up for
some days, she wrote her a series of whimsical letters which
she illustrated with clever drawings. Instead of using her own
name, she signed the letters "Susie Cucumber," the name of
a little fox terrier loved by the neighborhood childrep.
When she recovered from the measles, the little girl told
her friends about the Susie Cucumber letters. Immediately
they all wished "Susie" would write to them. Parents, grand-
parents, uncles and aunts gladly paid for a series of letters.
Today this woman does a profitable busines^ on a subscrip-
tion basis, sending out as many as 100,000 letters a year to
children all over the world. A wholly unexpected return on an
investment in giving-away.
In a letter published in The Reader's Digest, R.Webber,
Jr., tells of being so impressed with the courtesy of a conduc-
tor toward the passengers on a Chicago streetcar that he spoke
to him about it when the crowd had thinned out.
"Well/' explained the conductor, "about five years ago I
read in the paper about a man who was included in a will just
because he was polite. 'What the heck/ I thought, 'it might
happen to me.' So I started treating passengers like people.
And it makes me feel so good that now I don't care if I never
get a million dollars!"
That is exactly what I have discovered! Doing what you
can to make life more livable for other people makes your own
life fuller. Friends multiply and good things come to you from
every direction. The world has a way of balancing accounts
with givers-away provided their hands aren't outstretched
for return favors.
Thomas Dreier tells the story of a man over eighty who
was observed by a neighbor planting a small peach tree.
"Do you expect to eat peaches from that tree?" the neigh-
The old gentleman rested on his spade. "No," he said. "At
my age I know I won't. But all my life I've enjoyed peaches
never from a tree I had planted myself. I wouldn't have had
peaches if other men hadn't done what I'm doing now. I'm
just trying to pay the other fellows who planted peach trees
In practicing giving- away we both plant peach trees and
eat peaches, often unconscious of the fruits of our own little
thoughtfulnesses, and equally of the thoughtfulnesses others
have invested for our benefit, perhaps many years ago.
Today's giving-away is a blind investment in future hap-
piness, though we can never tell when, where or in what form
this happiness will come.
Which is part of the fun!
Giving yourself "in kind 55
4 There is a trade term "in kind" which applies in a spe-
cial sense to giving-away. In the old days a farmer might pay
his bill at the general store "in kind," that is, in some sort of
produce he had raised. Or he might pay his taxes, not in cash,
but in hours of labor, working on the township roads.
A gift of ourselves "in kind" something we can make or
do % is often more acceptable to people than anything we
might buy for them. We are inclined to value too lightly the
gifts "in kind" which we have to offer our friends, neighbors
and fellow workers. We take our talents too much for granted.
Within each of us is a great store of giveable riches. It may
be in the form of skill of hand, or of some special proficiency
or training. It may be the ability to entertain, to organize, to
teach. It mayTbe a talent that we have never taken seriously,
but which might be cultivated for the pleasure of others. Or
it may be a surplus of time.
Failing any of these, what we have to give may be just
warmth of heart and if we think of our hearts rather than
our purses as the reservoirs of our giving, we shall find them
full all the time!
A gift "in kind" is truly a gift of a portion of oneself.
One Christmas there arrived at our home a box from a
farm family. We knew this family lived near no city where
they could shop for Christmas gifts. What had they sent us?
Upon opening the box on Christmas morning we found
twelve pint jars of home-canned farm products kernel corn,
wax beans, tender little beets, squash, lamb stew, mince meat.
No present we received that Christmas was as much appre-
ciated as those twelve pint jars, all neatly labeled in the hand-
writing of the farmer's wife. They were a gift of herself and
her hard-working husband.
A fine example of giving one's craftsmanship is the story
of A. E. Shaw, a manufacturer of gavels, of Rocky River, Ohio,
as told in a copyrighted Associated Press dispatch following
the San Francisco meeting of the United Nations. -
"I was listening on the radio to the closing session of the
United Nations Conference when Stettinius wound it* up,"
Mr. Shaw related. "He pounded the gavel one two three
times. The first time it sounded all right, but the third time
I said to myself: 'That gavel's done for.' "
On a giving-impulse, Shaw wrote Stettinius offering to
make him a new gavel. The offer was accepted. The maker of
gavels then put his art and his heart into the fashioning of a
very fine gavel. He literally gave himself "in kind" to the
Most physicians, even the famous specialists who com-
mand high fees, give their services to deserving people who
are unable to pay for medical or surgical care. V rom others
who are well able to pay, they exact substantial fees. In this
way they balance their "in kind" giving with their profes-
It has always seemed to me that this balancing idea is
both wise and fair. I have no patience with so-called generous
people who give their time and talents so prodigally that they
are a worry to their relatives and friends because they do not
earn enough to support themselves and their families. That
is unsound "in kind" giving.
We are not all physicians, but many of us earn our living
with some talent, skill or craft which we can share on a bal-
anced getting-and-giving basis, charging the world a self-
respecting price for our services, but giving ourselves freely
"in kind" to worthy causes and deserving individuals who
need our help.
Emerson was referring to gifts "in kind" when he wrote:
" . . /Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his
lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral
and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief
of her own sewing."
After all, \vhat gift could be so appropriate as a bit of one's
own skill of hand or mind?
"You do not have to be rich to be generous," writes
Corinne U. Wells. "If he has the spirit of true geaerosity, a
pauper can give like a prince."
Each of us withholds every day a score of little gifts "in
kind" that could make our small world, and by multiplication
the whole big world, a happier place.
Minutes make fine gifts
4 Each of us receives an equal allotment of time twdnty-
four hours every day of the year. Even the busiest among us
has from a few minutes to an hour or more a day which he
could give to others in the form of some useful service. Oppor-
tunities for time-giving are to be found all around us.
Many of us have a "knack" at something. If we were to
use it in our spare time to do things for other people, we would
be giving something that perhaps no one else in the world
could give quite so acceptably.
A Boston businessman, who was very fond of children but
had none of his own, used to stop in at a small home for
orphans every Wednesday afternoon between five and six
o'clock and entertain the youngsters, giving the matron and
her helpers an hour of complete freedom.
He was a big, solemn-faced man, but the children saw right
through his dignity. Thfe instant he arrived in the playroom
they gathered around him with shouts of joy. In his pocket
he would have a bag of hard candy, a packet of picture cards,
or some penny trinkets always just one for each child, which
made it all the more precious. Squatting on the floor, he would
distribute his treasures, then launch into a story.
He was known to the youngsters as The Big Man, for he
had stipulated to the matron that his name should be with-
held. He wanted none of his business associates to know of his
hour with the orphans. "They would think me a sentimental
old fool," he explained.
In that hour each week he gave great happiness to a group
of fatherless and motherless youngsters, and welcome relief to
three overburdened women. "But nobody gets the fun out of
it that I do," he always insisted.
He is now dead, but the many boys and girls whose lives
he brightened over the years will never lose the memory of
The Big Man who gave them an hour of himself every Wednes-
day, and along with that hour some of his fine character.
Yet many of us would ask, "What really worth-while giv-
ing of myself could I do in one hour a week?"
A % retired railroad engineer, with time on his hands, tends
store every day from twelve to one o'clock in a small neigh-
borhood grocery run by a widow who has two small children.
While she prepares lunch for her children, he indulges a life-
long ambitior\ to run a grocery store.
"It's the most fun of any hour o.f the day," he declares.
"And handling food for an hour makes me so ravenous that I
enjoy my own lunch just about twice as much!"
The truth is, his lunch is seasoned with the spice of giving!
An elderly woman of my acquaintance, herself a grand-
mother, goes every pleasant morning to a certain bench in a
city park and watches over from three to half a dozen baby
carriages, while the babies' grateful mothers shop or get a
Another woman in my neighborhood has "adopted" an
old lady in a nearby home for the aged. She calls on her once
a week, writes her notes between visits, remembers her birth-
day, takes her and some of her cronies for occasional auto-
mobile rides, and loans her books. All in two or three hours a
There are many old people, invalids and children in insti-
tutions whose lives would be brightened immeasurably if
someone would "adopt" them.
Hazel I. Dannecker told this story of time-giving in The
During a long wait in Cincinnati's Union Station, I saw
an attractive girl barely in her teens approach a tired young
mother with two fretful babies and ask with a friendly smile,
"May I look after your children while you res,t for a while?"
For nearly an hour the girl entertained the children, then
helped the mother to her train. I watched her assist three
other harassed mothers, efficiently and tenderly. Finally, dur-
ing an idle interval, I inquired if she were waiting for a train.
"No," she said. "I live nearby with my aunt and haven't
anything to do after school. You see" and her voice broke
"there were five of us, and when we traveled Mother got so
tired. . . . Daddy was in the war. Mother died a few weeks ago.
. . . She always said I had a way with children. So I come over
here and help tired mothers."
We are prone to think we have no time to give away be-
cause we cannot bank on having spare hours. No matter;
minutes, usefully invested, are precious gifts.
During World War II one of the busiest women of my ac-
quainta'nce kept a steady stream of letters flowing to many
service men from her suburban community, whether she knew
them well or not. She wrote them the news of their home town,
and told them of the doings of the younger set, which she
picked up from her own children at mealtime.
Knowing of her strenuous program of war activities, which
involved almost daily trips to the city, I marveled at the vol-
ume cf her G.I. correspondence. One morning I happened to
ride to the city with her and she showed me her secret.
Opening her handbag, she exhibited a packet of note sheets
and stamped envelopes, a fountain pen, and a list of G.I.'s
names and service addresses.
"Whenever I have to wait, even four or five minutes, for
a train or an appointment, I address an envelope and start a
note," she explained. "Once started, it is easy to add another
paragraph the next time I have a few minutes. I average half
a dozen letters a day, with seldom as many as ten uninter-
rupted minutes. And you should see the letters that come
"I hesitated to start writing to the boys," she went on to
explain, "for fear the things I wrote about would not interest
them. But they gave me plenty to write about!"
This last statement has great significance to the would-be
giver who lacks imagination as to what he or she may have
to give to others. If you start to give yourself, be it in ever so
simple a fashion, the world will observe your spirit and show
you some need that you can supply.
There are a hundred ways of giving away little margins of
time you never will miss, which would be riches to someone.
I know a busy executive who dictates many letters. Each
morning he formulates a short paragraph of personal news or
comment outside the realm of business which he has his secre-
tary add, with appropriate variations, to nearly all his letters
for the day. As a result, his correspondence has a warmth and
friendliness rare in the business world. Yet not a minute of his
busy office day does this take, for he formulates the daily
paragraph a bit of himself on the way to the city on his
Oddly enough or perhaps naturally the busiest people
are apt to do the best job of giving-away. They are so busy
that they have to obey their giving-impulses promptly, and
get on with their affairs. Whereas people with plenty of time
are likely to debate within themselves: "Shall I, or shan't I?"
By the time the debate is over, the opportunity has passed.
It is so easy to confuse our daily busyness with our daily
business. Many of us earn our living in business, but waste
much of the rest of our time on busyness that profits us little.
Time was not created merely to be consumed in working
and worrying, rushing for trains, and dashing to appoint-
ments. It was intended to be used in "the pursuit of happi-
ness," as our discerning forefathers phrased it in the Decla-
ration of Independence. True, we would find it hard to be
happy if we did not work, and earn enough to provide for our
families. But beyond that, the aim of all of us should be to
give and to get the greatest possible enjoyment from every
sixty seconds of our lives.
In terms of downright happiness, it is my experience that
the returns-per-minute from giving are far greater than the
returns from getting.
Multiply your giving by three
^ You can, if you will, multiply the acceptability of 'your
giving-away by three.
The first multiplier is the friendly spirit of your giving.
Nearly always the spirit is more important than the gift itself.
If it comes from your heart, whether it be a simple "thank
you," an enthusiastic note of congratulation, or a tumbler of
homemade jelly, it is more acceptable than a costly present
given grudgingly or from a sense of duty which nearly al-
ways can be felt by the recipient. The spirit is you "i por-
tion of thyself," as Emerson expressed it.
The second multiplier is the timeliness of the gift. Too
often we let the moment pass when it is within our power to
give some person happiness. A day, an hour, even a few min-
utes later, the same action will have lost its keen edge of
pleasure. That is why impulse-giving has so much to com-
mend it. Your mind and heart take in the situation as it exists
at a particular moment in the lives of the people concerned.
Your action is tailored to the situation, making it not only
well timed but appropriate.
The third and most potent multiplier is enthusiasm.
One reason we get so little excitement out of our daily
lives is because we put so little enthusiasm into our hourly
living. Whenever we meet a person who is genuinely enthu-
siastic, it gives us a lift. Such people are givers-of-themselves
and are welcome wherever they go, because they make life
more interesting. Each of us can do the same for other people.
It takes no great effort, but merely thoughtfulness, to put
enthusiasm into your voice in giving-away. When you add
enthusiasm, you give people double pleasure, for so few of us
put our hearts and eyes and voices into our dealings with
those around us. We seem to take it for granted that words
are all that are necessary; but words carry only a small part
of what we say. The tone in which we say them, if it conveys
the warmth of our personality, is much more important than
Some of us are undemonstrative because we don't want to
be th6ught "gushers." But it is not necessary to be a "gusher"
to be enthusiastic. People who pride themselves on taking
everything and everybody matter-of-factly, assuming that
other people understand how they, feel, would be surprised to
find how cold ^nd unappreciative they are thought to be by
all but their closest friends.
One man of my acquaintance, who took great satisfaction
in never "gushing," told me that at forty-five he was shocked
to find that his philosophy of appreciation had been wrong.
"I felt so deeply appreciative for the things people did for
me that I was sure they must feel my appreciation," he ex-
plained. "But one day I did not get a promotion I had sup-
posed was coming to me. I asked why another man had been
chosen for the higher job and was told it was because my
superiors thought I silently disapproved of everything and
everybody, and with such an attitude I could not be a leader.
I investigated further and found that all but my closest friends
thought of me as a wet blanket because I never enthused over
This man was an absorber of appreciation, but gave none
in return, because of a misguided sense of reserve.
Here is good news for those to whom enthusiasm does not
come naturally: It can be cultivated.
At first you must consciously put your eyes, your voice,
your spirit in a word, yourself into your appreciation of
people and events and things. Do this around your home, at
your work, and in your social contacts, and you will be sur-
prised how quickly it will become second nature. You will find
yourself living in a more gracious and enthusiastic world, for
your enthusiasm will be reflected back to you from the people
to whom you give it.
Spirit Timeliness Enthusiasm. These are the three
Great Multipliers. They form an important pan of the art of
The unbuyable gifts
4 Consider the gifts that money cannot buy, such as kind-
ness, thoughtfulness, courtesy, consideration, and good nature.
Do not misunderstand me: I do not advocate developing
a Pollyanna personality. It is just good manners, good morals
and good sense to be courteous, thoughtful, kindly, consider-
ate and good-natured. Take kindness, for example.
Ohe night a good many years ago as a Lackawanna ferry
nosed into its slip at Hoboken, the passengers in the cabin
crowded toward the door all but one man who was slouched
in a drunken sleep.
Perhaps twenty people glanced at the drunkard as they
passed. Then one old gentleman went out of his way to step
over and shake the sleeper. "Hoboken," he shouted in the
man's ear in a kindly tone.
A dozen people turned at the sound of the voice. A look
of shame crept into their faces as the whispered word went
around that the man who had thought to do what any one of
them might have done was Thomas Edison.
"It never occurred to me until I read Try Giving Yourself
Away that one could adopt simple kindliness as a giving-away
hobby/' wrote a friend.
Why not? Not only is it a fine hobby, but it is a wonderful
way to collect friends. It springs from the heart and speaks
to the heart.
So, also, does consider at eness.
Doubtless you are a normally considerate person. I had
thought of myself as such. But I was surprised to discover
how much more considerate I could be by cultivating the
habit of projecting my mind, for a tiny fraction of a secfond,
into the mind and heart of every person I encountered. This
technique revealed an astonishing number of opportunities
to say something or do something that would make some
person warmly appreciative.
You can even be considerate silently. A train starts to fill
up. Instead of spreading out over the seat to try to keep it to
yourself, you can make the vacant space beside you look ac-
tually inviting. You will find yourself enjoying your Spirit-
of-sharing as much as it is appreciated by the fellow passenger
who settles beside you in response to your silent hospitality.
Thoughtfulness is a twin of considerateness.
One of the busiest and most successful professional men in
America is the most thoughtful person I have ever known.
Just to come into his presence is to experience a sense of being
looked after, so many are the little things he does and says
that make you feel comfortable, in mind and body. I verily
believe, that from the time this man gets up in the morning
until he goes to bed at night, he never neglects an opportu-
nity to exercise thoughtfulness, with his family, his patients,
his professional associates, his friends, aiid the strangers he
encounters. Yet no one would think of accusing this man of
being saccharine. He is not the gushy type; in fact his person-
ality is a bit on the austere side. But he is loved and respected
by all who come in contact with him.
Courage is one of the really rare gifts.
How often, in a group or a meeting, do we see some man
or woman take a courageous stand in a situation where a hard
decision is required, with the result that the whole group de-
Recently there passed away a member of a board of direc-
tors on which I serve. The president of the board paid him
this fine tribute: "In all the years Walter served on this board,
whenever there was a decision to be made which took courage,
he alvfrays faced the issue and insisted that we make the right
decision. He literally gave courage to all of us."
The person who gives his courage indeed gives a worthy
gift to his fellow men, and to the world at large.
Good nature is a gift which brightens the world and re-
flects back on the giver.
Several years ago a very wealthy man declared that he
would give a million dollars for Charles Schwab's quick, good-
natured smile. Yet he might have had it for nothing had he
but schooled himself to smile in every trying situation and
charge it up to good nature.
A warm, friendly smile is appropriate to any situation. It
is a sample of what you are in your heart, so you are literally
giving a bit of yourself.
A friend who journeyed around the world before the days
of world cruises, when native peoples were not used to tour-
ists, told me, "A smile was the one thing the people of every
country understood. So I smiled myself around the globe, and
made friends in every country without the services of an
In my own more limited travels abroad I found that a
smile given to waiters, porters, railway conductors, hotel
clerks, and shopkeepers, worked magic in lands where lan-
guage was a barrier.
In the present upset condition of the world we shall make
little progress toward peace and friendly relations until
nations stop scowling at each other and begin to exchange
friendly smiles. And that will come when they stop trying so
hard to get, and do a little giving.
Some place, years ago, I encountered a legend that I have
never forgotten: "Good nature begets smiles, smiles beget
friends, and friends are better than a fortune."
Perhaps you have never thought of the simple things men-
tioned in this chapter as gifts. That is our trouble: we think
of a gift as something that can be bought, something material
that can be seen and handled. Whereas the heart has its own
method of weighing and measuring, and its own scale of
Chapter 1 1
The priceless gift of tolerance
4L When he was president of Harvard, Dr. Charles W. Eliot
delivered a lecture* in which he made this statement: "An
honorable man must be generous, and I do not mean generous
with money only. I mean generous in his judgments of men
This all sums up in a single word tolerance.
Of ali the gifts we can bestow on our friends and neigh-
bors, and upon every person we encounter in our daily goings
and cbmings, none is perhaps so rare as the gift of tolerance.
It is as easy to be intolerant, critical, faultfinding, toward
people as it is difficult to be fair and tolerant.
Nevertheless, any of us can make tolerance a definite part
of our giving-away hobby. To do this calls for joint action of
the heart and mind. The heart says, "Wait, before you judge,
until you know why this person acts or lives as he or she does."
The mind sets out to discover what is beneath the surface,
and refuses to sit in judgment until all the facts are known.
Were people to know the truth behind our own lives, cer-
tainly they would judge us more charitably. If we knew what
people say about us, and how unfair many of their judgments
* The Durable Satisfactions of Life, published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
are, we would be slower to judge others without knowing all
that is going on behind the scenes in their lives. Since we do
not know, why should we not bestow on them the priceless
gift of tolerance, in our thoughts and in talking about them
with others, or in listening to others talk about them? It costs
us nothing and may be the most wonderful gift we could pos-
sibly give them.
A man living in a suburb of Boston was for years harshly
criticized by his neighbors for attitudes and actions which
certainly were hard to condone. He was tolerated socially
only because of his charming wife. She was accepted by every-
one, and had the sympathy of the entire community because
she had to live with such a husband a boorish, unsociable
man who drank too much. '
Quite suddenly one day the couple moved away, without
even leaving -an address with their friends. At a neighborhood
bridge party the evening following their departure the un-
popular husband received a particularly vicious tearing apart.
It was just like him to go.off without even saying good-bye.
Everybody agreed that it was good riddance to the commu-
nity, except that his attractive wife would be greatly missed.
Only one person in the neighborhood, a quiet young law-
yer, had always declined to be drawn into these discussions,
and this evening he kept noticeably aloof from the conversa-
tion. Suddenly one of the most outspoken of the women turned
on him. "Bradley," she snapped, "you'd think from the way
youVe never said a word when we've discussed Jim So-and-
So that you approve of him/'
"I'm afraid I do," he replied, "More, at least, than I ap-
prove the way we have torn him apart all these years. Have
we ever asked ourselves why he has acted as he has? What
have we really known about his life?"
The prompt and rather ill-natured consensus was that
they had known "plenty." The attitude of the lawyer was
He waited for the fire of their spite to die down. Then he
said quietly, "I learned in law school not to form judgments
until I had the facts. It took me a long time to get the facts in
this case, and I've had to keep them to myself until tonight.
But now that these people have moved away I'd better let
you have them, as I got them from a lawyer friend who works
for a Boston detective agency.
"The gracious wife of our unpopular departed neighbor is
a confirmed kleptomaniac. She has been caught shoplifting in
every large store in the city. Her husband managed to keep
her out of jail, usually at a heavy price. He nearly went to jail
on one occasion by drawing suspicion to himself. He dreaded
to have parties at his house because his wife has been known
to steal things from her guests." (Two women in the group
exchanged startled glances with their husbands.) "And he
has tried to keep her from coming to our parties whenever he
could because she has been known to take things from other
The whole group gasped.
It was this experience that really taught me tolerance
to reserve judgment on people until I had the facts and,
meanwhile, to try to like them.
I once read a Sioux Indian's prayer v/hich impressed me
deeply: "Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until
I have walked two weeks in his moccasins."
Probably the most precious thing a man or woman can
possess is a good name. The curious part of it is, scarcely a
day passes that you do not have an opportunity to give some-
one a good name.
Any time you find yourself in a group of people who are
talking about a friend or neighbor or fellow worker, if some-
one starts to disparage, you can so easily say something kind,
or at least tolerant. It is surprising how often this will cause
another to speak up and add something favorable to what
you have said. Many a time the conversation will end by giv-
ing a good name to the person under discussion. When this
happens everybody in the group feels better. * '
Is there not the best authority in the world for tolerance?
The Bible says: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: con-
demn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye
shall be forgiven."
three cents the United States Government will co-
operate with you wholeheartedly in one of the simplest and
most acceptable forms of giving yourself.
All you have to do is write a note to a friend or acquaint-
ance (or even a stranger) expressing interest, friendship,
sympathy, congratulations, commendation, good will or good
wishes, seal it up in an envelope, address it, stick a three-cent
stamp on it, and drop it in the nearest mailbox.
Ihdeed, the Post Office Department will co-operate with
you for even less: a post card can carry a wealth of warmth
We fail to make greater use of this governmental partner-
ship-in-giving, not because we are unaware of its possibilities,
but because we are thoughtless. We know how much we ap-
preciate notes from friends, but we do not stop often enough
to think how much they would appreciate notes from us.
Or perhaps it is procrastination. We promise ourselves on
many occasions to write to people, to tell them of our pleasure
in something they have done, or some honor that has come to
them, or to express sympathy for a sorrow. We keep putting
it off until some morning we say to ourselves, "Well, it's too
late now. Pm sorry I didn't do it when I first thought of it."
Which is just another argument for acting on impulse in
There is something peculiarly you in the letter or note you
write. It says, "I think enough of you to take the trouble to
sit down and try to put into words the feeling I have toward
It matters not whether you have the gift of expression. If
you say what is in your heart, the words won't matter. And
who knows, your letter may arrive at a time of crisis. The
course of many a person's life has been changed by a letter
received in the morning mail.
Three pennies is a small investment to make in giving
ourselves to our friends, or to win the friendship of strangers
who have done something which earns our gratitude or
Chapter i 3
On lowering the one-in-ten average
^ Though the term "giving thanks" has been in use for cen-
turies, we seem not to think of thanks as a gift. Yet it is a gift,
for every time you give thanks you give the warmth of your
I have had people thank me for little thoUghtfuInesses
with such genuine gratitude in their voices that it has warmed
me to the marrow of my bones. Undoubtedly you have had
the same experience. Yet how often do we give others all the
happiness we might for the things they do for us?
To realize how short we are falling we have only to note
the number of times we feel that the thoughtful things we
do for other people do not receive quite the thanks we
Our thoughtlessness cannot be blamed entirely on our
busy age. It is as old as humanity. Christ encountered it in
His day. We read in Luke's Gospel:
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed
through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men
that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have
mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves
unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back,
and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he
was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but
where are the nine?
Only one in ten returned to give thanks in Christ's
Today's average would not be much better. Surely, each of us
can do his part to raise this average.
One of my neighbors suffered the loss of a child. The
mortician who was called in went so far out of his way in the
thoughtful things he did that, upon receiving his bill, my
neighbor and his wife called on him to thank him for his
many kindnesses, and to ask if he felt sure he had charged
enough to cover all his time and trouble.
The mortician assured them that the bill was adequate.
He told them that as a young man he had aspired to be a
doctor, but had lacked the money for the years of necessary
"So I decided on my present profession, and made up
my mind to put myself as wholeheartedly into my service as
though I were a great physician, motivated by a genuine love
for humanity," he explained. "This has been my guiding phi-
losophy for more than twenty years, yet you good people are
the first ones ever to call on me and thank me. Need I tell you
that you have paid your bill doubly by your kindness?"
I like to think of "Thank you" as a tiny gift-token which
can be used to make the giving of anything a two-way trans-
action, enjoyable to the original giver and the thanks-giver.
Also, I try to remember that money alone cannot pay for
especially cheerful or efficient service, or for a particularly
fine job of work. The person who serves us superlatively gives
us something of himself, over and above the actual require-
ments of his job or profession. If we would square the account,
we must in return give something of ourselves.
None of us is ever too busy to pay his way. It takes only
a few seconds to say a heart-warming "Thank you." Prob-
ably no American of modern times lived a more hurried or
hectic life than Theodore Roosevelt. Yet even on political
campaign trips, when in the hustle and bustle he might have
been excused from thinking of other people, it was his custom
as he left his private train to stop and thank the engineer and
fireman for a safe and comfortable trip. It took but a fraction
of a minute of his time, but he had two more friends for the
rest of his life.
"Good politics," you may say. But good living too for
after all, isn't having friends the basis of happy living, as well
as of successful politics?
Nor have I found any situation in which thanks cannot
be given. You can thank even total strangers with a nod of
the head, a gesture of the hand, a grateful glance in jostling
street crowds, in swaying subway trains, at the theatre, in
the quiet of a church service, anywhere at all, if your heart is
saying "Thank you."
Isn't it time we did something about the inexcusable one-
in-ten average of people who return to give thanks? Wouldn't
you like to be one of a million volunteers to set out in serious
fashion to better this average?
Little sparks of appreciation
Q Life would be much more exciting if each of us left a trail
of "little sparks of appreciation" along our way.
Your wife makes a tasty omelette. Do you tell her how
good it is? She may tire of making omelettes, but she will
never tire of sincere compliments. What is more, she will en-
joy making the next omelette.
One of your children gets a good mark on an examination.
Do you show your appreciation by sitting down with the
youngster and going over the paper, expressing your pleasure
over each right answer? Nothing pleases children more than
this kind of parental interest and approval.
You enjoy your dinner in a restaurant. Do you tell the
waiter so? He gets terribly tired of serving food all day to
people who seem to get no special pleasure out of their meals.
A word of appreciation will add a touch of dignity to his job.
A salesgirl shows you unusual courtesy, or is particularly
patient in serving you. Do you mention it appreciatively?
Her feet probably hurt, and her spirit may be low. Certainly
she is weary of waiting on people who treat her as part of the
Your pastor preaches a particularly fine sermon. Do you
take a minute to go up to him after the service and express
your enjoyment? Every minister, lecturer and public speaker
knows the discouragement of pouring himself out to an audi-
ence, and not receiving a single appreciative comment. It is
not necessary even to wait until afterward to make your ap-
preciation felt. The "dead-pan" expression of audiences is the
despair of public speakers. A single "appreciative face" stands
out and is a source of inspiration.
In the early days of radio, when performers worked in
silent studios, many of therti found it impossible to give good
performances. Studio audiences were introduced and stage
managed to supply the appreciation which is essential even
to professional entertainers.
What applies to professionals applies doubly to Workers
in offices, stores, factories or studios. In our working relations
we should try to remember that the girl at the next counter,
the man at the next bench or machine, the person at the
adjoining desk or in the next office, is a human being first of
all, and after that a salesperson, machinist, cost accountant,
or department head. And all human beings hunger for
Leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of appreciation is
largely a matter of cultivating the habit of reflecting your
happiness over everything pleasant that happens to you
throughout the day by expressing it to the people around
you. It is a heart-warming habit for them and for you.
4 When some people express their appreciation it seems to
have a special quality which I have come to think of as depth.
At first I thought depth was a matter of sincerity or
warmth. But the more I studied the most successful appre-
ciators, the surer I was that neither of these qualities, nor
both of them together, fully explained depth.
And then, one day, I saw clearly what it was: their appre-
ciation was always specific.
They did not say merely, "I enjoyed your concert." They
said, "I enjoyed every number on your program, but particu-
larly the Chopin group."
They did not say merely, "I like<J your book ever so much."
They said, "Your book was so exciting that I couldn't lay it
down until I'd finished it, well after midnight."
They did not say merely, "This pie is delicious." They
said, "This is a delicious pie the crust is so flaky."
They did not say merely, "Thank you for the flowers you
sent me." They said, "The lovely flowers you sent me blended
in so perfectly with my table decorations that several of my
guests commented on it."
While general statements of pleasure or appreciation may
cover the etiquette of the situation, they fall far short of the
opportunity to give pleasure. They are lacking in depth of
thought; they reveal no discrimination.
I had always thought my expressions of appreciation ade-
quate until I made this discovery. Then I realized how shal-
low they had been, and how unsatisfying to the recipients.
You may be a natural appreciator-in-depth. If you are
not, I promise that if you will begin to seek out the specific
you will not only find that your appreciation is received with
greater pleasure; you will get greater enjoyment yourself from
the things you are appreciating for you will be exercising
greater discrimination in analyzing and evaluating them.
After all, if we appreciate something, it is usually for a
specific reason. If we train ourselves to analyze the- reason,
we have the basis for appreciation-in-depth.
Still another virtue of being specific is illustrated by the
experience of a now-famous woman writer. One morning she
received a letter from a stranger telling her how much she had
enjoyed the author's story in a current magazine. The letter
went on to tell just what parts of the story had proved espe-
This letter happened to arrive in the same mail which
brought back one of the author's stories from another maga-
zine with a rejection slip. As balm to her depressed spirits, a
few hours later she got out the note of appreciation and re-
read it. Suddenly she saw that the things singled out for
favorable comment in her published story were missing in the
one that had been rejected. She sat right down and rewrote
the story, and had the pleasure, a few weeks later, of selling
it to the very magazine which had originally returned it.
The specific gives people something to work on.
But mark this: appreciation must be sincere to be accept-
able. We usually know when something we do merits approval
or/fmipliment, and we are suspicious of people who praise us
Undeservedly. A specific comment shows the recipient that
we have given thought to what we say, but by the same token
it is the more transparent if not honest.
Are you a "noticer" ?
41, A seriously neglected aspect of the art of appreciation is
the habit of noticing.
All of us put much thought into selecting our clothes, lay-
ing out and caring for our gardens, decorating our homes and
adding to their furnishings, training our children, planning
menus for our meals, polishing our cars, and all the other day-
to-day activities of living. One of the minor disappointments
of life is that our family, friends and neighbors are prone to
take for granted all our thought and pains; they so seldom
seem to notice.
When someone does notice, and speaks admiringly of our
efforts, it pleases us inordinately. And is that not a fine gift
Merchants and businessmen give much thought to the
products and services they offer the public. They plan with
great care their advertising, their window displays, their
packages, their catalogs and sales literature, the layout of
their offices, the lighting and sanitation of their factories. It
is disappointing to them that ninety-eight people out of a
hundred seemingly fail to notice what they have done, let
alone speak any word of appreciation.
In taking for granted all of this care and thought, you and
I are shortchanging the merchants and businessmen who serve
us and ourselves as well.
Several years ago as I slipped into my berth on a train
one night, I noticed that it was made up with soft rose-colored
blankets not unlike those on my bed at home.
"This indeed deserves an expression of appreciation," I
told myself. Upon my return home I wrote a note to the presi-
dent of the Pullman Company in which I said:
I want to register my enthusiastic appreciation for the new soft
blankets you are now using in your sleeping cars. They are a most
welcome change from the heavy board-like blankets that have been
used on Pullman berths all these years.
Since I travel about a week each month, you can appreciate that
I am delighted to have these more homelike blankets to spread over
me when I go to bed on the train.
A few days later I received a friendly letter from the Pull-
man president thanking me earnestly for my note, and going
on with three paragraphs of interesting facts about "Pullman
housekeeping." It was a heart-warming exchange of corre-
If you cultivate the habit of noticing and speaking of
all sorts of little things, you soon begin to earn an unexpected
double dividend on your giving: you become more alert to
the life that is going on around you. You seem somehow to
savor it more, to enjoy its spirit and color and variety. Not
only that; you get a reputation for being a person of dis-
crimination which you actually become because you are
constantly exercising your powers of observation and ap-
A good "noticer" is indeed a great pleasure-giver.
Experiments in interest-giving
^[ In my hobby of collecting practically costless ways of
giving, I tried an experiment one evening.
My wife and I were invited to dinner at the home of a
man whose hobby is collecting postage stamps. I had always
been bored with stamp collections, and I rather dreaded it
when my host said after dinner, "Would you be interested in
seeing my stamp collection?"
Then this thought flashed into my mind, "Well, I've got
to see it anyway. Why not try giving him the pleasure of hav-
ing a really interested listener?"
"I would," I said, and I really meant it, for I was going to
practice my hobby while he indulged his.
So, instead of merely paying polite attention, while de-
voutly hoping our hostess would come to the rescue by sug-
gesting a game of bridge, I got into the spirit of his hobby. It
did not take him long to realize, from the look in my eyes and
the questions I asked, that I was genuinely interested. Draw-
ing on his broad knowledge of stamps and their history and
geography, he held me fascinated for more than an hour. I
was not half ready to have him stop when his wife did sug-
I had given my friend the pleasure of showing his stamp
collection, and in return he had given me one of the most
enjoyable hours I had spent in many months.
That night I came to the conclusion that the reason the
world often seems dull and unexciting is because we are so
wrapped up in our own narrow interests and prejudices that
we resist it when other people try to take us into their lives.
Whereas, if we would give them our interest, they would open
up realms which would prove fascinating to us.
To realize what an acceptable gift we bestow when we
give our close attention aftd interest to other people's hob-
bies and experiences, we have only to recall what pleasure
we get when we encounter a "good listener" who seems gen-
uinely interested in our travels, our garden, our library; or in
being shown our stamps or guns or butterflies, or whatever it
is we collect. He makes us relive our experiences enjoyibly.
We warm up to him and come to look upon him as a true
We may be sure that oithers will feel the same toward us
if we enter their worlds wholeheartedly, instead of merely
stepping politely across the threshold, with one eye on the
door, ready to back out the minute we decently can.
Since the episode of the stamp collection, I have tried
many experiments in interest-giving. One night, traveling
from Chicago to Buffalo, I sat in the Pullman smoking-room
reading a novel. There was just one other person in the
smoking-room, a man who sat looking out of the window into
the night, rather glumly, it seemed to me.
"I wonder," I said to myself, "if this man may not be
more interesting than the novel I am reading."
I shut the book. "You don't look as though you were
enjoying this trip," I said.
"No," he said, scarcely glancing at me. "I get fed up with
travel." I thought that was the end of it, that he had slammed
the door in my face. But in a few seconds he said, "Pm a
"What might a traveling engineer be?" I asked.
"A sort of trouble shooter," he explained. "They send me
out in the cab when the engineer on a run can't make the time
called for on the schedule. Or when they're working out the
running time for a new train. I'm rolling practically all the
"I'm very much interested," I said. "Tell me more."
He squared around so he was facing me, with one leg up
on the leather cushion, and for two hours related his experi-
ences. He told me of wrecks he had been in, and of the unbe-
lievable speeds he had traveled on test runs of locomotives.
He was bound for New York where he was scheduled to test,
with empty Pullmans, the new articulated roller-bearing
Twentieth Century Limited, in anticipation of reducing its
running time between New York and Chicago from eighteen
to sixteen hours.
When we parted at midnight his face was aglow with
pleasure and so was mine. We had both passed a thor-
oughly enjoyable evening. I had learned many interesting
things about railroads, and have taken greater pleasure in
railroad travel ever since. I have a hunch that he has enjoyed
his work more since that evening. When we give a fellow man
a fresh appreciation of the interest and importance of his job,
are we not doing him a fine service?
I did not finish the novel I was reading that night; per-
haps I shall never finish it. Only the best novels, I have dis-
covered, are as interesting as the experiences and hobbies of
people around us, if we but take the trouble to give them our
The poverty of the wealthy and the
loneliness of the great
Q Money and fame can represent a curious form of poverty
the poverty of the human spirit when left to itself. Neither
of these much-sought-after rewards would be of the slightest
value to an individual if he were stranded on an uninhabited
island in a remote spot in the ocean, or alone in the middle of
a great desert.
Money and fame are only wealth in relation to people.
Yet, .oddly enough, they tend to insulate their owners from
their fellow human beings.
The very wealthy man soon discovers that so many of
those around him are scheming to get some of his money,
either for themselves or for some pet cause, that he begins to
wonder if he has any true friends, interested in him for him-
self. It gives him a curious sense of loneliness.
He tries to spend his money to buy the satisfactions of
the spirit, but finds that it will purchase few. This is because
satisfactions of the spirit do not come from material posses-
sions or from costly living, but from friendly human experi-
ences. And these have to be given; seldom can they be
One afternoon I drove around a Florida resort in a Ford
runabout with a very wealthy man. Someone with little
money but a sound knowledge of human nature had given
him an inexpensive little gadget that made a saucy bird call
when he pulled a string. Every time he did this the pedes-
trians in our path would scatter. But the bird had such a
funny warble, and my millionaire friend wore such a happy
grin, that all along the street people turned to laugh and wave
to us. We laughed and waved back. We were all friends. t
The magic of the gadget was that it broke down the bar-
rier between this man's millions and the world of plain people.
The great whether they be opera stars or movie queens,
famous authors or headline comedians, explorers or scientists
often suffer keenly from the insulation of their greatness.
They may appear to be utterly self-sufficient, and some of
them put on a show of being cynically indifferent to their
"fan mail." But they are not; deep down inside most of them
love it! The publicity manufactured to build them up does
not warm their hearts. What they crave is the spontaneous,
human, affectionate appreciation of the people they are try-
ing to please.
None of us can live within ourselves; we must, if we are
to be truly happy, have a sense that the world likes us and
values what we can do, or appreciates what we have made of
August corporation presidents, bankers, lawyers, labor
leaders, prize unsolicited expressions of appreciation. I have
known prominent businessmen to carry in their pockets for
weeks, until they were dog-eared from much handling, letters
from strangers in humble walks of life commenting favorably
on ideas they have expressed in speeches, or on their corpora-
tion policies as set forth in their company's advertisements.
In the realm of politics we are all too ready to criticiz/e
our elected representatives and our civil servants when what
they do displeases us, but we seldom think to commend them
for actions which we approve.
When we write a note of appreciation or commendation
to any man or woman in the public eye, we should not expect
a reply. Many of these people do not have a secretary; and
many of those who do have are so busy that they cannot pos-
sibly dictate personal acknowledgments of all the letters they
receive* But they appreciate hearing from the public just the
And how can you know that your word of appreciation or
commendation will not strengthen or encourage some great
person at a critical hour in his or her life?
I think often of the loneliness of Abraham Lincoln as he
left the battlefield after his Gettysburg address. If only he
could have had Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews' beautiful
little story, The Perfect Tribute (written many years later),
to read on the train on his way back to Washington.
We think today that Lincoln must have realized that his
words would live in men's hearts; but how could he possibly
have known this? After the long, flowery speech of Edward
Everett, the orator of the day, which drew thunderous ap-
plause from the crowd, his simple speech was received in
silence. He could not know that his hearers were, so moved by
his message that applause would have seemed sacrilege. He
could not foresee that his words would one day be cast in
imperishable bronze, and be taught every school child in the
land. He could not know because no one told him.
If only some mother had timidly plucked his sleeve as he
made his way through the crowd back to the train, and said,
"Mr. Lincoln, I have given a son in this war, but your words
have healed the ache in my heart."
It takes bigness of spirit to praise the great and the suc-
cessful, instead of envying them.
Says George Matthew Adams: "He who praises another
enriches -himself far more than he does the one praised. To
praise is an investment in happiness. . . . The poorest human
being has something to give that the richest could not
The finest heart tonic in the world
4 Not long after I became interested in giving-away as a
hobby, I made a second important discovery. I had heard
other men tell about how, at times when they were low in
spirit or worried about something, they would sneak out for
a golf lesson, or spend an evening going over their fishing gear
or fussing with their collection of old firearms, and their spirit
would rise. Well, I discovered that if I turned to my new
hobby I got the same lift. The reason was, of course, that it
took me out of myself.
When you are feeling sorry for yourself, it requires a little
more conscious effort to start looking around for some way
to give yourself away than it does when you are feeling gay
and generous. But it works like magic!
Suppose you wake up grumpy, or actually belligerent
as who doesn't once in a while? You are quite sure that noth-
ing or nobody can make you feel cheerful. You are just in
for a "low" day, and that's that.
Then is the time of all times to begin looking for some
way to give yourself, not to be goody-goody, but for the
completely practical purpose of jockeying yourself into a
position where you can't help being happy.
I remember sitting at breakfast one morning at a lunch
counter in a restaurant near the South Station in Boston.
Having arrived on the sleeper from New York, and been
routed out before seven o'clock after a poor night's sleep, I
was feeling very sorry for David Dunn.
"What you have to accomplish in Boston today is too
important to risk failure just because you feel grumpy," I
told myself sternly. "You'd better start giving-away. . . . But
how can you give-away sitting on a stool in a row of other
grumpy night travelers before seven o'clock in the morning?"
I argued with myself.
And then I thought of the salt and pepper! I recalled
reading of some woman who said she was sure her husband
loved her dearly but he never thought to pass her the salt
and pepper. I had noticed ever since how important salt and
pepper are to our enjoyment of meals, and how seldom any-
one takes the trouble to pass them to us.
I glanced up and down the counter. The only salt and
pepper shakers in sight were directly in front of me. I had
already seasoned my fried eggs, with no thought of my fellow
breakfasters. Now, picking up the shakers, I offered them to
the man on my right.
"Perhaps you and some of the other people down the
line can use these," I said.
He thanked me, seasoned his eggs, and passed the shakers
on. Every person at the counter used them.
That broke the ice. I got into conversation with my neigh-
bor, and the man next to him joined in. Before I knew it
everyone at the counter was talking, and presently we were
all laughing and joking, eating breakfasts seasoned with salt,
pepper and good humor. And I had supplied the seasoning.
By the time I had finished my breakfast I was feeling
positively cheerful. My mission in Boston that day worked
out better than I had thought possible.
Walking down town on an errand one morning, for some
silly reason I was feeling out of sorts with the world. "Why
not try giving?" I asked myself. I looked around for some-
one' to give to. The only "prospect" in sight was a little girl
sitting on the doorstep of the house I was passing. She ap-
peared about as forlorn as I felt.
"That's a very pretty red dress you are wearing, young
lady," I said.
"Oh, thank you," she said, looking down at her dress, her
face lighting up at this surprising comment from a stranger
and a man, at that.
Her face was still alight when I passed her house half an
hour later on my way home. "Hello Man!" she hailed me.
I had a new friend. And my little gift of a compliment had
lifted both of us out of the dumps.
I can claim no scientific basis for the point I now make,
but I believe it to be sound: giving-away not only is good
for the spirit; it is also a beneficial heart stimulant.
It is my conviction that health is to no small extent con-
ditioned, perhaps even controlled, by the circulation of the
blood. That important little circulatory organ located in the
left side of the breast is, I believe, influenced to a greater
degree than we perhaps realize by that other heart which is
described in the dictionary as "the seat of the affections; the
When your emotional nature is stirred by something you
do, is it not probable that your heart is actually stimulated,
so that it quickens the circulation of your blood and makes
you feel alive and full of health?
I know that the little surges of happiness I get out of
giving-away suffuse me with a momentary sense of glowing
health. I have come to believe that my hobby of giving-a\vay,
with the flush of pleasure it brings, is the finest heart tonic
in the world!
Giving yourself to a group
CL One of my friends used to be painfully self-conscious in a
group. He dreaded to enter a roomful of people. One day he
made the interesting discovery that he could overcome this
diffidence by, as he expresses it, "giving myself to the group."
This is his technique: whenever he steps into a room where
there are several persons, he glances around to see if there is
not something he can do to make someone in the room hap-
pier or more comfortable.
For instance, it may be that the sun is shining in some-
one's eyes. Or there may be no ash tray near someone who is
smoking. Or it may be evident that moving a floor lamp will
throw a better light over tne shoulder of a person who is read-
ing or playing a game. Or perhaps a cocktail glass has been
left on the edge of a table where it is sure to be knocked off.
Or a lighted cigarette is poised precariously on the rim of an
ash tray, ready to fall and burn the table cover. Or he may
notice that a chair has been left in a position where people
are likely to bump into it.
This man does not make the mistake of rushing to do
something about any of these situations. He watches his op-
portunity quietly to lower the shade a little. He looks around
for an unused ash tray and places it beside the smoker, with-
out comment. He moves the floor lamp the necessary inches
to throw a better light. He puts the cocktail glass in a safe
place. He extinguishes the cigarette. He shifts the chair to
make a clear passage. All of these little services he performs
unobtrusively as he moves about talking with people.
This man reports that he has found twenty-odd things
that can be done to make a group of people more comfortable.
Most of them can be managed without anyone noticing and
he is particular about this, for he doesn't want to seem to be a
"Frequently I get a smile of appreciation," he says, "but
my real reward is that my self-consciousness has disappeared.
The reason, of course, is that I am no longer thinking of
have discovered that there are many ways a citizen can
give himself to his neighborhood or community, with small
expenditure of time or effort.
For example, the traffic light at the top of a certain hill in
my neighborhood changed so quickly that if as many as four
cars were waiting for the green light, it turned back to red
beforethe fourth car could get through. Everybody was cuss-
ing that light, but no one was doing anything about it.
'Here was an opportunity to do a bit of citizenship-giving.
I wrote a note to the Police Department calling attention to
the situation. By the next afternoon the green-light interval
had been lengthened.
Another example: One evening at a dinner party someone
told the distressing situation of a woman living on one of the
heavily traveled streets of our town who was dying of cancer.
Every time a heavy truck or bus went over a hump in the
macadam pavement in front of her house, the resulting vibra-
tion shook her bed and caused her acute pain.
The next morning I called the Commissioner of Streets
and explained the situation. Before nightfall a paving crew
had leveled that hump. Not only the cancer patient, but all
of her neighbors and friends were relieved, for they had suf-
fered for her.
These two experiences taught me this important lesson in
community affairs: Never assume that anything wrong has
to stay that way. It is an old saying that what is everybody's
business is nobody's business. Whenever anything in the
everybody's-business category comes to my attention, I do
whatever I can about it. I have found endless opportunities.
Driving to the office one morning, I noticed a metal hoop
in the middle of the road. I started to steer around it. Then
my impulse-habit prodded me into action. Pulling over to the
curb, I got out and picked up the hoop and tossed it into a
safe place, before its sharp edge could cut some motorist's
Half an hour later a stranger came up to me in the Post
Office. "I just want to say that I wish there were more citizens
as thoughtful as you," he said. "I saw you pick up that hoop.
After this I'm never going to drive past such hazards. Thanks
for waking me up."
That is another fine thing about giving yourself away:
you may be starting a chain of giving.
Walking along a country road in New England one Sun-
day morning with a friend, I observed that whenever we came
to an unsightly piece of paper, a pasteboard box or a bottle,
he would pick it up and toss it over the stone wall, out of
"I appointed myself a Roadside Pickup Committee of One
many years ago," this man explained, "and it has been great
I soon found myself clearing one side of the road while he
cleared the other. All the rest of the summer, every time I
traveled that road, its neatness gave me special pleasure. In
my walks in the country I now pick up as I go, and find it
makes my strolls more enjoyable.
These are all negative examples; but there are plenty of
positive ways a citizen of good will can give to his city or
town or village.
A printer in a western town was annoyed by the hand-
lettered signs in the windows and on the doors of many of
the retail stores explaining that they were closed on Wednes-
^Those crude signs are a disgrace to this town," he com-
plained to his wife.
"Well," she asked, "why don't you furnish the merchants
with neatly printed signs with your compliments? Wouldn't
it be good advertising for you?"
"That's a good idea," he said. The very next day he
printed three sizes of "Closed Wednesday Afternoon" signs
and sent a set to each merchant, offering to supply, gratis, as
many additional sets as might be needed.
He didn't even put his advertisement on the signs. "I don't
care whether anybody remembers that I printed them," he
told his wife. "I'm getting a kick out of seeing how much I
have improved the appearance of the stores of this town!"
The last I heard he was looking for other ways he could
use inexpensive forms of printing to dress up the town so
that as a printer he could take pride in it. My guess is he has
found them, for once you make a hobby of giving yourself to
your community, you will almost trip over opportunities.
A woman writer in a Southern city was bemoaning the
fact that when new people moved into the community it took
a long time for anybody to find out anything about them, and
even longer for them to begin to feel at home.
"Why don't you introduce them to the town?" her hus-
"I would if I knew how," she replied.
A week later an idea came to her. She stopped in to see
the editor of the local paper and volunteered to call 1 at the
homes of all newcomers and write a few paragraphs about
them, to be run in a weekly department, "Introducing 'Our
The editor agreed enthusiastically. The woman visits each
new family, finds out where they come from, the names and
ages of their children, what the husband does, their college,
church and fraternal affiliations, their hobbies anything
and everything they are willing to tell that will help to intro-
duce them to the community. Probably no feature in the
Saturday issue is as popular.
I noticed that a commuter living in a Chicago suburb
seemed to know everybody on the station platform. During
the course of conversation with him one morning he told
me that he did know just about everybody in town.
"For years I've made it a point to watch for strange faces
and give them a 'good morning/ " he explained, "so they will
feel that they know someone in their new home town. It has
made many fine friends for my wife and me."
I thought of Robert Louis Stevenson's saying, "A friend
is a present you give yourself."
Then there is the neighborhood aspect of giving to the
One night when we lived in a New York suburb my wife
and I were feeling lonely. I suggested that we call on some
neighbors up the street.
"Oh 1 , they are probably busy with their friends," she ob-
jected. "They don't want to be bothered by a lonely couple
"Let's find out," I said, going to the phone.
"Are you folks doing anything special tonight?" I asked.
"George and I have been sitting here feeling terribly lone-
some, and wishing there was someone to play bridge with,"
came the reply.
"Well, there is will you come to our house, or shall we
come to yours?"
I don't know when two lonely couples ever had a more
If there were a little blue light over every door, which lit
up automatically as a sort of S.O.S. call when the family felt
lonely, I wonder if Lonesome Lights wouldn't be burning in
half the houses on every street, and half the apartments in
every big apartment house, nearly every evening.
The late Harry B. Hostetter copied his citizenship-giving
hobby from the famous Johnny Appleseed who planted apple
trees over a large area many years ago. Hostetter's specialty
was planting acorns. He put a handful of them in his pocket
whenever he went for a walk, and planted one in any spot
where he thought it had a chance to grow and mature.
He got enjoyment from looking at hundreds of oaks which
grew from acorns he had planted twenty years before, some
of them six inches or more in diameter, and forty feet tall.
This man gave not only to his own generation, but to
future generations. And why not? We inherited the fine old
trees we enjoy; why shouldn't we pay our debt to our grand-
fathers by making the world a more beautiful place for our
The world would be a cleaner, safer, happier, more attrac-
tive place if each of us were to adopt some citizenship-giving
specialty of his own. We would find plenty of opportunity to
practice it, for not a city, town or hamlet in the world is as
friendly, beautiful or livable as it might be,
Are you a credit-giver?
Q One of the best-liked and most successful men I know has
a giving-specialty. He goes out of his way to give credit.
In his business he gives credit for every job well done, for
every good idea suggested, for particularly prompt service,
for a well-written letter, for intelligent handling of a situa-
tion. This he does not only directly to the person involved,
but in the presence of others whenever possible.
He gives his wife credit, before the children, for the many
thoughtful things she does, so that they will acquire the habit
of credit-giving. He gives the children credit, in the presence
of one another, for anything they do that shows care or
thoughtfulness or enterprise.
He gives the maid credit for the tasty dishes she prepares.
In his community he not only writes notes of appreciation
to members of the city administration whenever anything
they do pleases him, but takes pains to give them credit to
his neighbors and friends.
In his church he is constantly on the lookout for some
fine piece of work by a committee member, or a thoughtful
service someone has performed, to mention it appreciatively,
in public if possible.
When asked by one of his less gracious associates whether
giving credit did not swell some people's heads, he replied
laughingly, "Sure one in fifty, perhaps. But such people
would swell up anyway, and life takes care of swelled heads
quite effectively. I'm interested in the other forty-nine."
I've added credit-giving to my collection!
Gifts-of-credit are, I discover, appreciated by everyone,
no matter how old or how young, how great or how small.
Yet most of us neglect many opportunities to make others
experience the warm glow that comes from spoken recogni-
tion of the jobs they have done well.
Just another case of too much taking-for-granted.
On the sharing of surpluses
4L Up to now the giving-away we have discussed has not
involved money or material things, beyond a sheet of note
paper and a postage stamp, a phone call, or the expenditure
of a trifling sum.
There are, however, two or three exceptions to this rule.
I believe, for example, that surplus things of all kinds should
be shared. If you have more of something than you can pres-
ently use whether it be a barrel of apples or a crate of
oranges, more hats than you need, half-worn automobile tires
that you will probably never use, a superabundance of flowers
or vegetables in your garden a surplus of anything at all
you will probably get far greater pleasure from sharing it
than from hoarding it.
Years ago I spent Christmas Day with a bachelor friend
in his apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Among his
Christmas gifts was a box of a dozen sterling silver teaspoons,
sent him by his sister, who knew that he got his own break-
fasts and occasionally served a meal to his bachelor cronies.
No sooner had he opened the box of teaspoons than he
went to the cupboard in his kitchenette and got out a dozen
silver-plated teaspoons. Calling the janitor's wife, he asked
her to come up to the apartment. When she appeared he pre-
sented her with the plated teaspoons. She was delighted.
"I might possibly need those spoons some time," he ex-
plained to me, "but I don't need them now and with her
large family she does need them."
This spontaneous action awoke me to a realization that,
as far as our happiness is concerned, we are living now ; not
tomorrow or next week or next year. If all of us were to share
our present surpluses, we should probably find that our future
needs would be taken care of in good time.
In the world's attics, basements, cupboards and bureau
drawers are millions of dollars' worth of perfectly good things
furniture, clothing, linens, curtains, tools, toys, baby thjngs,
" u gg a g e > electrical equipment, cooking utensils, porch and
garden furniture just taking up room and collecting dust
year after year. They are not serving us, and in most cases
might better be given to s&meone who can use them now.
One of my neighbors, a widow with a large house fur-
nished to the point of overcrowdedness, recently started to
give away everything she is not using. And what joy she is
getting out of presenting these things to needy people, young
couples just setting up housekeeping, friends, relatives and
I watched her as she presented one of her neighbors with
a length of garden hose. She did not make the mistake of
doing it in a Lady Bountiful spirit.
"I wonder if you can use this section of garden hose," she
said. "I have more hose than I can possibly use. When it is
coiled up in the garage the coil is so big it's in the way. . . .
No; I couldn't think of accepting anything for it, I just want
to feel that it is being useful to someone."
My Uncle Ed owned an unusual mustache cup and saucer,
designed for use by a left-handed person. Uncle Ed was not
interested in collecting mustache cups, so this one was stored
in a box in his attic.
For years he tried to sell it to a man who had a very fine
collection, but no left-handed ones. The collector, a man of
modest means, could not afford the price he asked for it.
"Why don't you give it to him, and have the pleasure of
thinking of that cup occupying a place of honor in his collec-
tion?" I once asked my uncle.
"Give it to him?" he snorted. "I paid six dollars for it
twenty years ago, and it must be worth much more now."
When Uncle Ed was in his last illness he sent for the col-
lector and gave him the cup. "IVe hated myself for holding
out for my price all these years," he told him. "I realize now
that Fve been cheating myself as well as you."
This incident reminded me of Axel Munthe's wise obser-
vation about money and material things: "What you keep to
yourself you lose, what you give away you keep forever."
The most individual example of surplus-sharing I have
evepw*quntered was the sharing of a talent. One day I met
a well-known author on the street in New York. "What are
you writing now?" I asked.
"Fm writing a book for my maiden sister," he replied. "I
have enough royalties rolling in to take care of me and my
family. So I'm going to assign the royalties on this book,
large or small as they may be to her though I haven't
told her yet. Pm having a grand time working on her surprise
Speaking of books, another minor exception I make to my
rule of costless giving is that I often send books to friends.
Nor does this violate my philosophy of giving myself, for any
book that I have discovered and adopted is really part of me.
I never like to borrow a book, because if it promises to be
useful to me I want to keep it handy for reference. And if it
is a book which inspires me, I want to keep it by me to pick
up when my spirit needs refreshing. I know that many Others
have this same feeling, so I do not like to lend books to
friends; I nearly always give them, to be kept.
Sometimes I send boo t ks to virtual strangers, when I feel
sure they will be interested in some "find" I have made. Sev-
eral wonderful friendships have been started in this way.
Most of us have surpluses of one sort or another which we
could share. And after all, as Norma S. Scholl writes, "Every-
thing we have is really loaned to us; we can't take anything
with us when we depart. If we have no use for a thing, we
should pass it on to someone else who can use it now"
The gracious art of receiving
^ In an article in The Reader's Digest describing that un-
forgettable character, Edward Sheldon, Anne Morrow Lind-
bergh wrote: "He knew how to receive so graciously that the
gift was enhanced by its reception. It was the rarest pleasure
to bring things to him. . . . Warmed by his welcome, how
beautiful became the things one brought to him."
To be a really successful giver-away it is necessary, also,
to study the art of graceful and generous receiving. "To re-
ceive, a present handsomely and in the right spirit/' wrote
Leigh Hunt a century ago, "even when you have none to
return, is to give one in return."
If you find pleasure in giving, so do others. You have only
to stop and think how you feel when your giving is rebuffed
or looked upon with suspicion, or when someone is slow to
enter into the spirit of it, to realize how important it is to
accept quickly and to acknowledge graciously the thought-
fulnesses of others toward you.
The act of giving strikes a tiny spark which, if the receiver
is quick to react, starts a fire glowing in two hearts. If the
spark is allowed to die, part of the glow is lost to both.
Sincere compliments are among the finest gifts in the
world, the most hungered for and the most appreciated by
nearly all of us. Yet how few of us have learned to receive a
compliment gracefully. Instead, we too often clumsily bat it
back by making an awkward disclaimer which spoils the
pleasure for both parties.
Among all of the people I know, I have observed that a
young married niece, who goes through life receiving com-
pliments on her prettiness, her talents, her clothes, her chil-
dren and her home, has most completely mastered the art of
receiving compliments, and doing it without the least trace
of self-complacency. Giving her a compliment is always an
A study of her technique reveals it to be simple indeed.
First, a quick smile of appreciation. Then an equally quick
"Thank you," followed by some phrase that takes the spot-
light off herself. For example, "Yes, isn't it a pretty dress.
Mother sent it to me." Or, "I got the idea for rearranging the
room from So-and-So's new book on interior decorating."
Her secret is that she never keeps compliments to herself,
though she admits that she "thrives on them." She accepts
them for a fleeting second and then passes them on.
Whether we are giving compliments or sharing surpluses,
all of us like our gifts to be received graciously, but not self-
ishly. Again my attractive niece provides the pattern. She is
as generous in giving compliments to others as she is gracious
in receiving them. While she never makes the mistake of try-
ing to pass a compliment right back, on a clumsy quid-pro-
quo basis, she does watch for a later opportunity to return it,
when it will not seem like barter. She believes in keeping her
Compliment Account balanced.
Receiving, like giving, must be kepi fresh,. All the fun is
killed for the giver if his or her gift is taken for granted. The
fact that I have received the same kind of a gift from a person
before, does not entitle me to assume that my appreciation is
understood and need not be expressed again. It is my feeling
that we have no right to take for granted that even members
of our family know that we appreciate the things they give us
or do for us, no matter how often repeated. All of us like to be
told that our gifts-of-ourselves are appreciated.
A little touch of ceremony is never amiss in connection
with giving and receiving, no matter how simple the gift or
how expected. I know an elderly gentleman who goes out to
the garden every summer morning, picks a single bloom of
whatever is in flower, and takes it to his invalid wife. The
smile on her face as he presents it to her, and her exclamation
of pleasure, are so genuine that an outsider would assume this
was the first such attention she had ever received; yet the
little ceremony is thirty summers old.
Years ago I learned that a "second thanks" is an impor-
tant part of the gracious art of receiving. If a person sends
me a book and I cannot read it immediately, I write a note
of appreciation at the time. Later and it may be many
months, for I have much reading to do when I finish the
book I write a second note, telling the giver of my enjoyment,
this time in specific terms.
Recently I had the pleasure of being on the receiving
end of a "second thanks." Four years ago I gave one of my
nephews a metallurgical handbook as a birthday present, for
which he thanked me appropriately at the time. Recently I
received a letter from him saying that he had changed his
job, and that in his new work he had occasion to refer almost
daily to the handbook I had given him. He wanted me to
know how useful my gift was proving.
This note made so favorable an impression on me that I
now have my eye peeled for other books to send this appre-
ciative young man.
The "second thanks" idea is by no means confined to gifts
of books. It is as broad as giving and receiving. And here
again, acting on impulse helps to make your life much more
Two years ago a friend sent me an ingenious aluminum
lime squeezer. One evening last summer when my family was
away I used it to make myself a cool drink. As I sat on the
porch sipping the drink, I felt a surge of appreciation for my
friend's thoughtfulness in sending me the handy gadget.
"Why not tell him?" I asked myself. I went to the phone
and called him up.
"I just used that tricky lime squeezer you gave me, to
make a cold drink," I said. "I thought I'd call you up and
tell you how much I am enjoying that gadget. . . . Yes, my
family is away. . . . Yours too? Well, come on over!"
Ten minutes later John arrived. What had started out to
be a lonesome evening for each of us turned into a thoroughly
enjoyable one for both of us.
If you were to take stock right now of the nice things that
have been given to you, or done for you, for which you have
already expressed your appreciation once, you would prob-
ably find that you are still enjoying a number of them. If you
are not already an habitual "second-thanker," why not take
the trouble to tell the givers again of your pleasure? They
will appreciate it; and you will refresh your own spirit by
re-appreciating the gift.
The investment of influence
4^ Years ago Newell Dwight Hillis, then pastor of Plymouth
Congregational Church, Brooklyn, wrote a stimulating little
book entitled The Investment of Influence. It has been out
of print for many years, but it has never been out of my mind.
Its theme was that every individual is richer and more power-
ful than he thinks.
Each of us, no matter how humble our situation, -has at
least a small circle of friends and acquaintances who are
influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by our ideas, "bur
example, our character. Daily, in our contacts with them,
we are giving ourselves to them, whether we realize it or not.
A small act that costs us^ little in time or effort may make
the day supremely happy for some person in this group. An
unconscious giving of ourselves, in tolerance or loyalty, to a
friend or neighbor may carry him through a tight place. A
word of encouragement from us, at just the right moment,
may alter the entire life of someone who looks up to us to an
extent we do not realize.
Then there is the matter of "building up" our friends and
Many years ago Elihu Root wrote: "I observe that there
are two entirely different theories according to which indi-
vidual men seek to get on in the world. One theory leads a
man to pull down everybody around him in order to climb
up on them to a higher place. The other leads a man to help
everybody around him in order that he may go up with
It is so easy to use our influence to pull people down, by
belittling their achievements, pointing out their weaknesses
(and who of us is without his weaknesses?) and undermin-
ing their characters by spreadinjg gossip. In so doing we be-
little ourselves, and lose the respect of people who are too
big to stoop to. such things.
Whereas, when we do everything in our power to build up
other people, we build ourselves too, in character, reputation
You and I belong a little to the neighborhood in which
we live, a little to our city or town and state, a little to our
country, and at least a tiny bit to all humanity.
It is a mistake, therefore, for us to concentrate our influ-
ence by too narrowly confining our giving-away, for if we
concentrate on family and close friends we are shortchanging
the world. Furthermore, we are missing the joy of sharing
ourselves broadly, and we are using only a fraction of our
But perhaps the most important reason for not concen-
trating our giving-away on a few people is that it tends to
make them selfish, which is as great a disservice as one human
being can do to others. Not only does it deny them the pleas-
ure of giving themselves, by making them chronic receivers,
but it undermines their self-respect.
So, when people grow used to your gifts of yourself and
begin to demand them, it is time to stop giving so much to
those particular people. This may wake them up to their
self-centeredness and such an awakening is in itself a valu-
Therefore be wise. Spread your giving-away over a con-
stantly widening circle of friends, relatives, business or profes-
sional associates, acquaintances, neighbors, yes, and strangers.
To do so will extend your influence in an ever-widening circle,
enriching the lives of many people.
For teen-agers only
(Parents please keep out)
d/I have made an interesting discovery about young people.
Once they get the idea, they are better givers-away than
most grown-ups. Since most of them haven't much money to
spend, they have only themselves to give. So they think up
ways that would never occur to older people, whose ideas
about giving usually start with money, or with things that
Then, too, young people are more impulsive. They have
fewdr inhibitions; they are less afraid of being snubbed. They
think of a nice thing to do for someone and do it. And that
is the real secret of being good at giving-away: to act on a
generous impulse before it has time to cool.
The best place to start your giving is right at home. After
all, you are a member of the family, and the more you con-
tribute to its happiness, the better the family will be, and the
more fun you will have together.
Being constantly told to do things around home is a bore.
But it is also the key to some Grade A ideas for giving your-
self to your parents. It is only necessary to do voluntarily
a lot of the things you know you ought to do, or that you
are going to have to do eventually anyway, to give your par-
ents some "gifts" that will please them more than you can
For instance, you can help, cheerfully, with the house-
work, weed the garden, mow the lawn, and do many other
You can keep your room picked up (if you don't already)
and save your mother much time and energy.
You can do your school homework or your practicing \\i
you take music lessons) without having to be nagged. (This
would be a marvelous "gift" in many a home, for it wears
parents out to have to "keep after" their children.)
You can help keep the car washed and polished, so it will
be a credit to the family. And you can be thoughtful about
asking to use it for parents have their plans, too.
You can keep sensible night hours, and by so doing relieve
your parents of much anxiety and nothing ages them as
fast as anxiety.
You can help with the care of the younger children, so
that your mother will be able to rest, or do some of the things
she never seems to have time for.
If you don't think of these things as being "gifts" to your
parents, it is because you are so full of energy that you don't
realize how tired older people get, and how little time they
have to do the things they would like to do.
Perhaps none of the things I have mentioned represent
your particular opportunities for giving yourself to your
family. You know better than I do what you could do to
make it a happier family.
It is not the doing of these things that is a "gift," so much
as it is the promptness and cheerfulness with which you do
them. It is the spirit in which each member of the family
"carries on" that makes home life run smoothly.
Teen-agers can give in dozens of ways to their brothers
and sisters, as well as to their parents. All they have to do is
to think of the kind of things they would appreciate having
thftr brothers and sisters do for them.
In Your Life, Marion Simms told the story of a girl who
wanted to give her older sister a birthday gift but had no
money in her bank. But that didn't stump her. When the
sister opened her birthday packages at breakfast, she found
an envelope tied with a ribbon. Inside were three colored
slips of paper, each with a "gift" neatly printed on it:
Good for 2 dish washings.
Good for 2 bed makings.
Good for 2 kitchen floor scrubbings.
These three presents were among her most welcome birth-
^ i t
There is one "catch" that may make you hesitate about
cheerfully volunteering to do things around the house. Be-
cause you are so willing, the family may come to expect you
to be available for chores every minute of the time you are
As I look back at my own youth, I know I felt that my
time was not properly respected by my parents and my older
brothers and sisters. Being the youngest of four children, I
was constantly being asked to do this or that, often just when
I had other plans.
I realize now that part of the fault was my own. Because
I put off doing the things I was asked to do, or that I knew
very well I should do, I let myself in for being reminded of
them even nagged into doing them usually at the most
inconvenient times. If I had my teens to live over again, I
would proposition my parents along this line: "If you will
tell me the chores that I am supposed to do as my share* of
running our home, and I promise to do them without your
having to keep after me, may I have the rest of my time to
myself?" I believe most parents would be more than happy
to make this kind of a bargain.
I would then organize those chores to get them out of
the way fast, so they wouldn't be hanging over me.- But I
wouldn't stop there: I would work in little surprise gifts-of-
myself to the family as often as possible.
You need not limit your giving to your family.
When you have spare time you can offer to run errands
or do chores for your neighbors.
At school you can "give" yourself to your teachers, not
by bringing apples or being sissy, but by giving your close
attention during class, by having your homework ready on
time, by being helpful in every way that occurs to you.
You can "give" to your pals by going over their home-
work with them when there is something they do not under-
stand but never by doing it for them.
You can "give" to your Scout Master, your athletic
coach, your team mates by acting on every helpful or gener-
t t t
It is never too early to start giving yourself away. Some
time ago a California boy named Jerry wrote me the follow-
c I'm a kid 1 3 years of age. I wash dishes for my parents in a sand-
wich shop. When there are no dishes, I grab a Reader's Digest and
sit down to read. I read your article "Try Giving Yourself Away."
I'm not only going to make a hobby of giving myself away I'm
going to make it a part of my life.
You say take an idea while it's "hot." "To be successful at it
one must act fast, while the impulse is fresh." I got the idea of writ-
ing to you this afternoon, I'm writing tonight, 9:30 as "hot" as I
can get it!
Starting at thirteen to make giving himself away a part
of his life, Jerry will "go places." He will have an interesting
life, and make a host of friends. I wish I had started at thir-
teen, instead of in my late thirties!
Every time you give a bit of yourself you plant a little
seed of Future Happiness. All the rest of your life these seeds
will keep springing up unexpectedly along your path. When
you need a friend to give you a lift in some situation, likely
as not along will come a person for whom you did something
thoughtful when you were a youngster.
Take up giving-away as a hobby while you are young
and you will have a happy life. What is more, because you
do so many thoughtful things on impulse, you will develop a
lively and interesting personality gracious, friendly, and
4 People ask me, "Do you never meet with rebuffs in. your
giving- aw ay?"
Yes; every now and then I receive a snub from someone.
Occasionally, too, I encounter a person so cynical that he or
she eyes me with suspicion, or rejects my giving entirely.
What of it? We suffer plenty of rebuffs in our getting, but
we do'not stop trying to earn a living on that account. We
even expect to have to swallow our pride at times. Why
should we not be just as willing to do a bit of pride-swallow-
ing when we are trying to earn happiness for ourselves by
giving? After all, we work at both for the same ultimate
reason to get enjoyment out of living.
Some people are so selfish, and so lacking in common cour-
tesy, that they resent others who are generous and thought-
ful, and willing to give themselves.
One man wrote me, "I couldn't believe at first that you
were really sincere in what you tried to do for me. I kept
looking for an ulterior motive. But I have come to realize
that you were entirely unselfish. I am thoroughly ashamed of
my boorish attitude. I am going to try out your philosophy
myself. I think maybe you have what I've been looking for all
these years but looking in the wrong direction, I now see."
Some rebuffs are inevitable, and they even have their use-
fulness. Once you make up your mind to this, your timidity
and thin-skinnedness will all but vanish. You will find your-
self grinning on those occasions when you bump into a person
who meets your giving with suspicion or rudeness. When you
reach this point, you will have graduated from the amateur
Acting on a giving-impulse, a woman in Ohio wrote a
letter of appreciation to the author of a book which had
deeply moved her. She received no reply and was very much
put out. After reading Try Giving Yourself Away, she wrote:
"I had resolved never to do any more of that sort of letter
writing. Most of my efforts have either met with indifference,
been laughed at, or were received with a sophistication that
merely implied, 'Another scalp/"
The trouble with this woman is that she has been doing
her giving-away in a spirit of barter. Admittedly it is a pleas-
ure to receive a letter in return. But if I receive no reply I
do not take it as a rebuff.
Since writers, artists, musicians and stage celebrities are
gifted people whose ego feeds on appreciation and applause,
I am willing to add my bit of fuel to the flame of their genius,
not for their sakes alone, but so that they may be encouraged
to give the world still more of themselves. If they write books
that give me pleasure, for instance, I want them to write more
books, so that I may continue to enjoy their art. All who make
life enjoyable should be encouraged.
Having dealt in ideas all my business life, I sometimes try
to give manufacturers and merchants ideas for their adver-
tising, for new products, for improving their service. Always
I offer them "with no strings attached."
In a few instances my ideas have been accepted in the
spirit in which they were offered. But more often I receive a
letter of rejection. The first such letter seemed like a slap in the
face, until the legal counsel for a large manufacturing concern
explained to me that his company received many letters from
pedple suggesting new products, or improvements in old prod-
ucts, or outlining advertising ideas.
"It is rarely that these ideas have not already occurred to
someone in our company," he explained, "and if they are
good, oftener than not we are workirig on them. If we express
any interest, we are likely to let ourselves in for a claim that
we have 'stolen' the correspondent's idea. In several instances
we have been sued. So we are obliged, politely but firmly, to
decline practically all the ideas that are sent us, even though
it seems ungracious."
I could see his point. But I still try to give away business
ideas occasionally. And once in a< -while I have the satisfac-
tion of seeing one used.
Nor is the field of ideas the only one in which you will
occasionally meet seeming rebuffs. You might just as well
make up your mind to it that some of your gifts-of-yourself
will fall flat.
So do some of the jokes of even such experienced come-
dians as Fred Allen, Edgar Bergen and Bob Hope. But do
they give up their radio careers because of that? By no means.
Nor do they blame the radio audience. Their attitude is that
they have set out to earn their living by entertaining people,
and it is up to them to find out how to "put over" their lines.
They experiment with tone of voice, emphasis, timing, as
well as with the lines themselves.
One evening I was backstage at a performance of a very
successful Broadway comedy. At one point all the members
of the cast who were not in the scene then being played
gathered in the wings and attentively watched and listeited.
Suddenly the audience burst into a "belly-laugh." The as-
sembled players exchanged delighted glances.
The stage manager explained to me that the particular
line which had brought the laugh had of late been failing to
"go over." The company had discussed it and decided that
the star had unconsciously changed the inflection of a single
word, thus altering the whole sense of the line. So this evening
he had tried changing the inflection, and their theory* had
"That's what makes the theatre interesting," explained
the stage manager. "If entertaining the public were too easy,
we'd all get bored!"
Practice, persistence, experimentation are required in any
art. The art of giving-away is no exception. If our self-giving
were sure-fire with every person and in every situation, it
would be too easy to be fun.
A final word of warning: Don't take your giving-away too
Keep your sense of humor in good working order at all
times. Add a whimsical touch, or a dash of merriment if you
feel a bit self-conscious, or if you half-way anticipate a rebuff.
A good-natured laugh is a priceless gift in-many .a situation.
Remember, you are trying to make the world a brighter,
merrier, more exciting place. Sanctimoniousness is definitely
The fun comes from inside
4 Let me be utterly honest: there are a few people who* will
not find greater happiness in taking up giving-away as a
hobby. They will, in fact, scoff at the idea, and make fun of
This will not bother me in the least, any more than I
should be bothered if my hobby happened to be collecting
Russian icons and some people thought it a silly hobby. We
collectors have our fun inside; we are not dependent on the
approval of outsiders.
Most of the scoffers will be men and women who are con-
vinced that getting their own way, getting the best of every
bargain, getting credit for everything they do, getting ahead
at the expense of other people in short, "getting theirs"
is the only sensible way to go through life.
They are the people who absorb all the compliments you
give them, but never give any in return; who always let you
reach for the check; who criticize other people yet deeply re-
sent any criticism of themselves; who expect others to go out
of their way to do things for them, but never volunteer to do
anything in return.
They are the world's absorbers. Their whole philosophy
of life is to Get-Get-Get. They do not know the meaning of
the word Give.
Such people are apt to discover, too late, that an all-
getting life is only half living.
t -f t
Then there is the kind of person William Hazlitt described
ia one of his essays:
There are persons who cannot make friends. Who are they?
Those who cannot be friends. It is not the want of understanding or
good nature, of entertaining or useful qualities, that you complain
of: On the contrary, they have probably many points of attraction;
but they have one that neutralizes all these they care nothing
about you, and are neither the better nor worse for what you think
of them. They manifest no joy at your approach; and when you
leave them it is with a feeling that they can do just as well without
you. Thi is not sullenness, nor indifference, nor absence of mind;
but they are intent solely on their own thoughts, and you are merely
one of 1 the subjects they exercise them upon. They live in society as
in a solitude; and, however their brain works, their pulse beats
neither faster nor slower for the common accidents of life.
Such people will not be interested in giving-away as a
hobby. They lack the capacity to "glow." Greater happiness
cannot be guaranteed them.
Finally, there are those who are slow to believe what they
know about life: that it is "more blessed to give than to re-
ceive." For this group there is hope. Given time, and a bit
of experimentation, many of them will work through their
The fact is, I do not recommend giving-away as a hobby
to anyone who is not prepared to keep at it long enough to
discover that the enjoyment is in the giving, and that any
return that may come, over and above the inner glow, is in
the nature of an extra dividend. Any more than skiing can
be recommended as a sport for a person who gives up after
the first two or three spills, and is not willing to persevere
until that wonderful moment when he suddenly gets the
hang of it and goes skimming down the slope, with the
whole wide world seeming to co-operate to give him a thrill!
But of this I am certain: Any person of sincerity and good
will, who will persevere in giving himself away more gener-
ously than he has ever thought of doing up to this minute,
will enjoy a much happier life from now on.
Greater happiness now!
^L Some wise person has written: "Success is a journey, not
a destination. Happiness is to be found along the way, not
at the end of the road for then the journey is over and it is
too late. The time for happiness is today, not tomorrow."
If we wait to arrive at happiness, we shall be sadly dis-
appointed in life. Happiness must be experienced as we jour-
ney, a minute here, an hour there, occasionally a day, once
in a long while several days or a week.
But the weeks and days and hours are all made up of
minutes, and if we live for happy minutes the hours and days
and w r eeks will take care of themselves. We shall find our
road through life a pleasant one, apd spend less time worry-
ing about the distant goal.
A stream of happiness-opportunities is flowing past us
continuously: during the hours we spend at home; in the
office or store or shop where we work; as we walk along the
street; as we travel by train or plane or bus in short, wher-
ever we are and whatever we are doing.
We would do well to adopt this creed, written a century
ago by Stephen Grellet: "I expect to pass through this world
but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness
that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let
me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
We permit too many opportunities for happiness to slip
by us because we labor under two major delusions.
One of these delusions is that we shall be happy WHEN
When we arrive at a certain destination;
When we can be with a certain person or in a certain place;
When our schooling is finished;
When we get a better job;
When we arrive at a certain income;
When we are married;
When the baby is born;
When we recover from our illness;
When our bills are all paid;
When we own a new car;
When we move into a new home;
When some disagreeable task is finished;
When we are free from some encumbrance.
Doubtless we shall be somewhat happier WHEN but not
as much happier as we think. Life has a way of presenting
new complications, and conjuring up new wants, as fast as
old ones are satisfied.
The second delusion is that we can buy a ticket, or pay
admission, to happiness.
We seem never to learn that wherever we go we take our
happiness or unhappiness with us; and that whatever we do,
it is how much of ourselves we put into the doing which in-
fluences our happiness far more than what the outside
world contributes. The only way we can insure our happiness
is to train ourselves to be happy in spite of, rather than be-
cause of, what life does to us. When we succeed in doing this
we become adult.
It is these two delusions which keep us looking ahead or
abroad for happiness, instead of enjoying the small pleasures
right around us here and now.
My friend Timothy Crowley used to quote a saying taught
him in childhood by his mother: "Ye may go forth in search
of happiness, but to find it ye must return."
I recall a Sunday afternoon when our nearest neighbors
suggested to my wife and me that we go for a ride with them
in search of pussy willows.
We started off hopefully to look for these little harbingers
of spring. For two hours we rode, every now and then passing
an automobile in which we could see bunches of pussy wil-
lows. But search as we might, we found none.
Finally, at dusk, we saw a man emerging from a lane
carrying an armful. We stopped and questioned him.
He pointed off to the west. "About two miles yonder in
the woods, down by the river, I found these/' he said. "But
you couldn't get in there with your car."
It was growing late. Disappointed, we went home empty
The next morning, looking out of an upstairs window,
my wife saw children gathering pussy willows in a far corner
of the big vacant lot between our house and our neighbor's
the very last place in the world we would have thought to
When she told me about it that evening I thought of
Mother Crowley's "Ye may go forth in search of happiness,
but to find it ye must return!"
It is never too late, nor is anyone ever too old, to take up
giving-away as a hobby. You are probably doing, already, a
great many of the things mentioned in this book, and per-
haps many others that have not occurred to me. To live a
more thrilling life, rich in satisfactions and full of little ad-
ventures, you simply begin to look for more opportunities to
give yourself, to more people, in more ways, both usual and
unusual. At least that is my experience.
Whenever the world grows a bit dull, or I feel low in
spirit, I know at once what the trouble is: I have stopped
trying to give myselj away. Instinctively, I look around for
some opportunity to share a bit of myself. It seldom takes
long to find one. Then I begin to feel alive to glow with a
current of happiness.
As I write this, I clearly realize for the first time that this
is what happiness really is a current. It is as though each
of us were an electric bulb, some of low wattage, some high,
but all of us free to draw a supply of happiness from the
world's inexhaustible current. And all of us potential dis-
seminators of light and warmth.
No one has ever learned the secret of continuous happi-
ness. Perhaps we could not stand it. Possibly we should burn
out, like a spent light bulb. But I am sure every one of us
could stand much more happiness than we do enjoy with-
out the least danger of burning out!
One thing is certain: When we set out to give ourselves
fully and freely, our hearts make direct connection with that
great central source of light and power, God, the giver of all
"Suppose," a friend asked whimsically, "all of us should
sudtfenly take up your hobby and start 'giving ourselves
away' in the fashion you suggest wouldn't we begin to
bump into each other?"
I have asked myself that same question seriously. And
I have come to a definite conclusion: We would suddenly find
ourselves living in the most gracious age in the history of the
world, with our lives full of delightful little adventures, our
days happy and all too short, and the very air we breathe
charged with friendliness and good nature!
Wouldn't you like to live in such an age?
Wouldn't the tolerance and understanding and good will
that would be generated by such a, spirit give you confidence
that peace and sanity can be restored to the world ?
Isn't this something you and I can do, starting today,
toward lifting the blanket of gloom and suspicion that has
settled over mankind, while at the same time we earn greater
happiness for ourselves now?